Ambassador Cruise Line, a U.K.-based company, has issued an apology to its passengers who were left traumatized after witnessing the brutal slaughter of dozens of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands. The incident occurred when the Ambition cruise ship, carrying over 1,000 passengers, docked at the port of Tórshavn, situated between Scotland and Iceland.
Reports revealed that passengers were shocked as they observed locals butchering the pilot whales, which had been driven into the harbor and then killed using knives and metal rods. Graphic photos shared on social media depicted the harbor turning red from the extensive slaughter of these marine mammals, which are, in fact, a type of dolphin.
Expressing disappointment over the incident, Ambassador Cruise Lines released a statement expressing their strong objection to this outdated practice. They highlighted their ongoing collaboration with ORCA, a charity focused on the study and protection of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the UK and European waters since 2021, in an effort to encourage change.
Emphasizing their commitment to sustainability, Ambassador Cruise Line sincerely apologized to the majority of guests onboard, acknowledging the distress they may have experienced witnessing this local event. The CEO of the company, Christian Verhounig, revealed that constructive dialogue had taken place with the Faroese government, and he urged guests and crew not to support the commercial whaling and dolphin hunts by refraining from purchasing or consuming whale or dolphin meat.
1. Ambassador can confirm that the arrival of Ambition in Torshavn in the Faroe Islands today coincided with the culmination of a hunt of 40+pilot whales in the port area. We were incredibly disappointed that this hunt occurred at the time that our ship was in port.
— ambassadorcruiseline (@ambassadorcruis) July 10, 2023
In response, the government of the Faroe Islands defended the whale hunt as a longstanding tradition ingrained in their culture. They noted that the Faroese people have been consuming pilot whale meat and blubber for over a millennium and emphasized that the whale drive remains a community activity regulated by national laws.
According to Whales.org, pilot whales are actually large dolphins and are known for their extraordinary social bonds, motivating them to stick together in risky situations. While they are not currently listed as an endangered species, NPR reported that 646 whales have been killed in the Faroe Islands this year, including the 78 killed on the day of the incident.