(6:30 a.m. EDT) -- There were angry scenes in the Greek port of Piraeus yesterday as passengers were prevented from joining their cruise ship by Greek port workers.
According to Athens News Agency ANA, around 870 mainly Spanish passengers clashed with the striking workers as they tried to break through the picket line to board the 47,255-ton, 1,440-passenger Zenith, which is operated by Pullmantur, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. The ship was due to embark on a week-long cruise from Piraeus, the port for Athens, of the Greek islands, Italy and Croatia. Passengers were accommodated overnight in hotels.
Zenith has now sailed and is at sea, according to cruise ship schedule Web site, cruisecal.com. A spokesperson from Pullmantur was not available for comment by press time.
The 24-hour strike is over the proposed lifting of Greece's archaic cabotage laws -- a move that would allow non-EU-flagged cruise ships to home port in Greek ports with no obligation to hire Greek crew.
"Lifting the restrictions, as announced, will mean the end of Greek-flagged cruise shipping and the funeral of Greek sailors," Antonis Dalakogiorgos, head of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation, told the Reuters news agency.
Some 20 ships, mainly ferries, were affected by Monday's industrial action, according to ANA, and the union is threatening another day of strikes this Friday, April 30.
At this point, no cruise ships are due to arrive or depart Piraeus on Friday but these lightening strikes could carry on and the Eastern Mediterranean is about to enter its busy season.
We'll keep you posted as the situation develops.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributor
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Striking Workers Block Cruise Ship in Piraeus
April 27, 2010