An installation commissioned by Artwalk Porty

Joppa Bandstand, Portobello, Edinburgh

September 26 & 27, 2020

Visitors were invited to use a QR code at the location of the artwork to access the following information


a group of people / things, etc. meeting together; an assembly


the process of collecting information


gradually increasing or approaching (gathering darkness / gloom / storm)



a place providing temporary protection, for example from bad weather or danger

something that covers


a shielded or safe condition; protection



origin: from quaranta giorni, Italian for “forty days,” – the length of time ships had to anchor before entering Venice during the 14th-century plague epidemic


a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed


international maritime flag, flown from a vessel to indicate that it declares itself free of quarantinable disease, and that it requests free pratique, or permission to enter a port


At the beginning of 2020, the cruise ship industry was hit by a number of Covid-19 outbreaks, and the ships became known as floating petri dishes – hotbeds of Covid transmission among some of the highest-risk people.


On February 20, the World Health Organisation announced that more than half the known cases of Covid-19 in the world outside China were on a single ship: the Diamond Princess.

Five cases were also confirmed on board Braemar, a cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean – operated by the British-based company Fred Olsen, but registered in and flying the flag of The Bahamas. The company also owns the ships Black Watch, Boudicca and Balmoral.

As early as January, countries were starting to refuse entry to cruise ships. In February, Braemar was turned away from a number of Caribbean ports. The Bahamas also refused entry, but eventually allowed the ship to anchor 25 miles off-shore to refuel, get supplies of food and receive medical assistance via helicopter. Passengers and crew were stranded at sea for more than a week.


Eventually, Cuba allowed the ship to dock. British passengers were repatriated in four aircraft sent from the UK, including one provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


By the beginning of April, thousands of passengers were stranded at sea around the world on cruise ships that had been denied entry to ports, and refused entry or support by their nation flag states.


In the middle of March 2020, Forth Ports granted Fred Olsen’s four ships – Braemar, Balmoral, Black Watch and Boudicca – safe haven in the Firth of Forth. The ships sailed to Edinburgh, and sheltered at anchor in the estuary with a skeleton crew on board.


In the middle of April, eight members of the crew on board Black Watch tested positive for Covid-19.

Forth Ports instructed that the ship remain at anchor until the quarantine was complete. At the end of May the four ships moved to Rosyth, where they remain with the company’s two new, recently bought ships, Bolette and Borealis (previously Amsterdam and Rotterdam).

Two cross-channel ferries owned by P&O, the Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Burgundy, were also granted safe haven at the Port of Leith at the beginning of May, and have remained there since.


Braemar, Boudicca, Black Watch and Balmoral are owned by a company that is based in the UK, but are registered in and fly the flag of The Bahamas, a common and legal practice known as flying a flag of convenience.  


All merchant ships must be registered to a nation state; British cruise ships are often registered abroad, which is usually cheaper and means that they may be subject to less stringent safety and employment laws, environmental safeguards and certifications for crew.

The practice began during the prohibition era, when the US government banned the transportation of alcohol, and people sought alternatives to get around the law.

Nowadays, crew and passengers are subject to the laws of the flag state while sailing.



Under previous owners has also been called Royal Viking Sky, Birka Queen, Sunward, Golden Princess, SuperStar Capricorn, Hyundai Keumgang and Grand Latino


Under previous owners has also been called Royal Viking Star, Westward and Star Odyssey

The Bahamas is a popular choice of convenience flag for cruise ship companies, as are Panama and Liberia in West Africa.

Most cruise companies choose names for their ships that suggest a strong association with a country that in reality they have little to do with.

Among other advantages for ships registered in The Bahamas, the country imposes no tax on income. Any profit the cruise line makes is untaxed, neither is there any tax on capital gain if a vessel is sold at a profit.


In July 2020, some of the world’s biggest cruise ship companies received low-interest emergency loans from The Bank of England and the UK Treasury. Those included Royal Caribbean, which received £300 million and is incorporated in Liberia, and Carnival, which received £25 million, and is incorporated in Panama.


Under previous owners has also been called Crown Dynasty, Crown Majesty, and Norwegian Dynasty


Under previous owners has also been called Crown Odyssey and Norwegian Crown

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