My wife and I were passengers on the Oceana when it was refused entry to St. Thomas on the 27 of January. I have only just read the article by Molly Morris in your paper, hence my delay in replying.
As a soldier, I worked in the BVI in 1968, constructing the airfield on Beef Island and have many fond memories of weekends in Charlotte Amalie. Having recently retired, my wife and I decided to take a holiday of a lifetime by returning to the Virgin Islands, on my birthday, to renew those memories.
From your article it would seem that the owners of Oceana failed to comply with U.S. regulations required to enter the port and as the officer from the Coast Guard said, they will be penalised for it. I have no problem with that if it is true and am separately addressing my complaints to P & O cruises. However, this is forgetting the nearly 2,000 passengers on board who were also penalised by being refused entry to St. Thomas.
It is very difficult to understand why, that as the main ally of the U.S. and having stood shoulder to shoulder with you diplomatically and militarily in all recent conflicts, our citizens should have been treated as pariahs and escorted by armed guard to international waters due to an administrative error beyond the passengers' control. After all, the captain apparently was invited to re-apply for entry from outside the 12-mile limit, so it is unlikely that we were deemed a threat to security by U.S. authorities; rather we were being taught a lesson.
Regrettably, it is now unlikely that I shall ever be able to return to the beautiful Virgin Islands, but I still have those memories, and despite being disappointed with heavy-handed U.S. officialdom, I can still say God Bless America.
39 Barbers Wharf
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