Cruise ship passengers traumatized after witnessing bloody slaughter of 78 pilot whales, company apologizes

News & Politics

A cruise line has apologized to passengers who were traumatized by witnessing dozens of pilot whales being slaughtered in a bloody harbor.

On Sunday, the cruise ship Ambition – owned by the U.K.-based Ambassador Cruise Line – arrived at the port of Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands between Scotland and Iceland. The Ambition cruise ship was reportedly carrying more than 1,000 passengers when it sailed by the whale hunt.

Yahoo News Australia reported, “Cruise ship passengers were shocked when the luxury vessel Ambition moored at a European island where locals were butchering wild dolphins with knives and metal rods.”

The pilot whales were reportedly forced into the harbor and then killed.

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Graphic photos of the whale hunt – known as the “grindadrap” or “grind” – were posted on Facebook by Captain Paul Watson Foundation U.K.

Photos show that the harbor turned red from the massive slaughter of the pilot whales – which are actually dolphins.

Ambassador Cruise Lines issued an apology on Thursday: “We were incredibly disappointed that this hunt occurred at the time that our ship was in port. We strongly object to this outdated practice, and have been working with our partner, ORCA, a charity dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK and European waters, to encourage change since 2021.”

“Sustainability is one of Ambassador Cruise Line’s core values, and we fully appreciate that witnessing this local event would have been distressing for the majority of guests onboard,” the cruise line said. “Accordingly, we would like to sincerely apologize to them for any undue upset.”

Christian Verhounig, the CEO of Ambassador, said the cruise line had “constructive dialogue” with the Faroese government. He advised guests and cruise crew “not to buy or eat any whale or dolphin meat and stand against any profiteering from commercial whaling and dolphin hunts.”

Defenders of the whale hunt say the event is a tradition in the Faroe Islands – a self-governing nation under the external sovereignty of Denmark.

The government of the Faroe Islands responded by saying, “As has been the case for centuries, whaling still occurs in the Faroe Islands today. The Faroese have eaten pilot whale meat and blubber since they first settled the islands over a millennia ago. Today, as in times past, the whale drive is a community activity open to all, while also well organized on a community level and regulated by national laws.”

“Pilot whales are actually large dolphins; they are the second largest member of the oceanic dolphin family (second only to orcas in size),” according to Whales.org. “Pilot whales are extraordinarily social; their strong bonds with one another motivate them to stick together through thick and thin, even when that means putting themselves at risk.”

There have been 646 whales killed in the Faroe Islands this year, including the 78 killed on Sunday.

NPR reported, “They’re protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but not currently listed as an endangered species.”

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