Passengers left stranded as Ponte cancels trip with them already on board

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded on Independence Day when Ponte Ferries – the new Malta-Sicily catamaran operator – canceled scheduled services with passengers already boarding the vessel.

Passengers who were stranded last Wednesday either in Valletta or Augusta told The Shift that the company owned by part of the Zammit Tabona family (owned by Michael and Julian Zammit Tabona) of the Fortina Group and the Gozitan’s producer of tomato products, the Magro Group, was “embarrassing the country with Third World service”.

Passengers told The Shift how, after queuing with their vehicles from 3 a.m. to board the scheduled 5 a.m. departure from Valletta, they were told by an onboard announcement that the ship had to depart late “due to technical problems”.

“They let everyone on board and at 6 a.m. announced again that the trip was cancelled,” an angry passenger told The Shift.

Passengers also complained that the ship’s staff treated them with disrespect whenever they tried to ask what was going on.

A number of disgruntled passengers have taken to social media to express their frustrations about the service, or lack thereof, and many have recounted similar experiences in recent weeks.

A comment posted on a popular Facebook group.

Contacted for a reaction, Ponte Ferries CEO Edward Zammit Tabona declined to give details.

Passengers told The Shift the ship resumed regular service yesterday but noticed the vessel was taking longer to make the crossing, apparently due to a faulty engine.

Ponte performs her daily service with the HSC Artemis, which is over 20 years old.

This latest trip cancellation is part of a string of incidents characterizing Ponte’s bumpy ride in an attempt to compete with rival Virtu Ferries, which has operated the shortest route to Pozzallo for 30 years.

Many had hailed the advent of competition in high-speed crossings to Sicily, as travelers had long complained about high prices charged by Virtu, thanks to what was effectively a monopoly.

However, the initial enthusiasm quickly turned to frustration as Ponte’s service began to experience regular problems, including a false start last year, with many dashing their holiday plans after the service failed. not started on the scheduled date.

Other incidents included the seizure of the vessel by Italian authorities due to non-compliance with international regulations.

Some of the comments on Ponte’s Facebook page

It is not yet established whether Ponte will continue to offer daily service in the winter.

So far, passengers are not allowed to book next month. When questioned, Ponte refused to divulge any information.

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