VENUS, Former SOUTHWARD Arrested in Israel

RIO photo © Heiko Gerlischer

The Maltese-flag cruise ship VENUS (ex SOUTHWARD, SEAWING, PERLA, AEGEAN PEARL, THE AEGEAN PEARL, RIO) has been arrested in the port of Ashdod according the the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel.  The 16,710 gross ton ship was detained on August 15, 2012 after failing to pay wages to at least some of the 340 crew  members onboard.   The ship has been impounded under a lawsuit filed by 70 Ukrainian members of the crew over delinquent payments of their salaries and a lawyer is currently defending their rights and interests, according to Kiev’s foreign ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dykusarov.  “The health of the crew members, including Ukrainians, is satisfactory, and the ship has enough drinking water and food,” Dykusarov said.  He also noted that none of the crew members, including Ukrainian citizens, had accepted the lawyer’s offer to leave the ship and return home.  An almost identical situation took place aboard the same ship when it ceased operating for Rio Cruises under the name RIO.  In May, 2010 that company was bankrupt and the ship remained idle at Ashdod, while members of the crew refused to disembark unless they were paid, many remaining on the ship into July under increasingly poor conditions.   An undisclosed buyer purchased the ship at auction in September of 2011 in “as is” condition for $4.8 million.  The new operator was called Venus Hflgot which returned the 41 year old, first generation cruise ship to service this year in what has proven to be a short-lived venture.  The ship was newly built for Norwegian Caribbean Lines in 1971 and was best known for sailing from the North American ports of Miami and later Los Angeles as the SOUTHWARD.  It also did extended stints with AirTours and Louis Cruise Lines.  At capacity, the ship carries 802 passengers, double occupancy.

Thanks to Ally Jones




Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake

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