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Passengers stuck on cruise 'to nowhere' after ship was denied entry to New Zealand

P&O's Ventura ship.
P&O's Ventura ship.

Passengers on an Australian cruise ship have been at sea for a week after a dirty hull prevented the boat from docking in New Zealand – with some experiencing long bouts of seasickness.

The 13-day-long P&O Pacific Adventure cruise departed from Sydney on Nov. 20 and was intended to take passengers around New Zealand, including stops at Wellington and Fiordland National Park, and return to Sydney on Sunday.

The cruise has scrapped the New Zealand leg of the cruise and is slated to arrive in Hobart, a city in Tasmania, Australia, on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Carnival Australia, which owns P&O Cruises Australia, told USA TODAY.

“P&O Cruises Australia can advise a change to the compensation for guests on board Pacific Adventure, after the ship was unable to visit New Zealand,” the cruise line said in a statement.

Upon arrival at the Bay of Islands on Nov. 23, the ship was not allowed to dock.

New Zealand has strict biosecurity laws that require a ship to be cleaned in order to reduce the risk of invasive species entering the country’s environment, Mike Inglis, Biosecurity New Zealand’s northern regional commissioner, told USA TODAY in an email.

“We know that almost 90% of the exotic marine species already in New Zealand likely arrived here as marine growth on the submerged surfaces of international vessels,” Inglis said.

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A photo sent from the ship to Biosecurity New Zealand showed “high-risk organisms including mussel and oyster growth and could pose a risk to New Zealand if the ship cruised in our waters,” he said.

Bad diving conditions prevented the cruise staff from finishing the cleaning of the hull.

As the ship revised its itinerary, the 2,781 passengers had to stay onboard “on this crummy cruise to nowhere,” one passenger wrote on a Facebook page for the cruise.

Guests have been reportedly feeling seasick because of the extended time out at sea and choppy waters. A passenger told The Guardian that sick bags are “quickly disappearing” from around the ship.

On Facebook, multiple guests wrote they were going to abort the rest of the cruise and fly home after the board docks in Hobart.

At first, the cruise line offered a 50% future cruise credit, but that was changed to a full refund and a $300 per person on board credit.

“We have listened to the feedback from our guests and understand not all of them wish to cruise with us again,” the cruise line said in a statement. “Again, we apologise for the change in itinerary, and thank our guests for their patience and understanding.”

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at kwong@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: P&O cruise rejected from New Zealand port, stuck at sea for a week