A cruise ship carrying hundreds of passengers has been stranded off the coast of Australia due to potentially “harmful” marine growth on the vessel’s hull.
The Viking Orion was due to dock in Adelaide before being denied permission after authorities found potentially harmful organisms – known as “biofoul” – accumulating on the ship’s hull.
Authorities from the Australian Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said in a statement “The management of biofoul is a common practice for all arriving international vessels.
“To protect the marine ecosystems within Australian waters the vessel is required to undergo hull cleaning to remove the biofoul and prevent potentially harmful marine organisms being transported.”
“Professional divers were engaged directly by the vessel line/agent to clean the hull while at anchor outside Australian waters.”
The ship hasn’t docked since leaving the New Zealand capital Wellington on Boxing Day.
In a statement sent to passengers, the cruise operator Viking said “While the ship needed to miss several stops on this itinerary in order for the required cleaning to be conducted, she is expected to sail for Melbourne as planned on January 1, and we are expecting the scheduled itinerary to resume completely by January 2.”
The ship was also reportedly refused permission to dock in Christchurch, New Zealand, and in Hobart, Tasmania, according to website Vessel Tracker.
Passengers on the cruise ship complained of a ‘holiday from hell’ with the vessel not being able to dock in half of its expected port cities.
One passenger, John Davidson, told Australian 10 News First: “We have been told we will be compensated. Currently, it’s 50 percent but we think that offer is going to be improved going forward.”
Another passenger said on Twitter that “We are enjoying a happy cruise but are sorry for the Americans who came so far to be denied several ports of interest in NZ and Australia.
“Onboard everything is normal and Viking has offered at least a 50% credit/refund.”
Viking, the ship’s operator, was one of the first in the cruise industry to withdraw all planned voyages in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In their statement, Viking told passengers “Viking is working directly with guests on compensation for the impact to their voyage.”