Australia: Cruise passengers stranded after marine growth halts ship


Hundreds of passengers have been stranded on a cruise ship off the Australian coast after a potentially harmful growth was found on its hull.

The Viking Orion was reportedly denied permission to dock in Adelaide after authorities discovered “biofoul” – an accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals.

This can allow invasive species to be imported into non-native habitats.

Officials said the ship’s hull must be cleaned before entering Australia.

Previous reports suggested the growth was a fungus, but this was not confirmed by the Australian fisheries department.

The department said the management of biofoul was a “common practice for all arriving international vessels” and that the ship had to be cleaned to avoid “harmful marine organisms” being transported into Australian waters.

“Professional divers were engaged directly by the vessel line/agent to clean the hull while at anchor outside Australian waters,” it added.

The ship was also reportedly denied permission to dock at Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart.

Kenn Heydrick, a passenger, said they had not been able to leave the ship since 26 December. Four scheduled port stops had been missed, he said, with the next due in Sydney on 4 January.

“The intensity of frustration and anger is growing among passengers,” he said.

“The majority of passengers are trying to make the best of things and enjoy extended time at sea. But it is the excursions at four ports that we were looking forward to, and now are greatly missed.”

Another passenger called the holiday a “trip from hell” on Twitter.

“I have cried repeatedly for both the significant financial hit after saving for two years and the loss of memories and experiences,” she said.

The 14-deck, 930-person ship – which was built in 2018 – has reportedly dropped anchor around 17 miles (27km) off the coast while the cleaning occurs.

In a statement, operator Viking admitted that a “limited amount of standard marine growth” was being cleared from the ship’s hull and said that this had caused the vessel to “miss several stops on this itinerary”.


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