by John Konrad (gCaptain) What should have been a dream holiday for passengers, a holiday cruise through the glittering blue waters from Auckland to Sydney has turned sour. Instead of making port calls, they were stuck on the vessel for six days straight, unable to dock in Australia due to a potentially hazardous organism found on the hull. Australia’s strict marine biosecurity regulations meant the ship was not allowed to enter the country’s waters.
The 14-deck Viking Orion was stranded 16 miles off the coast of Adelaide, Australia due to the presence of a mysterious sea snail. To make the best of the situation, the crew provided lobster dinners, glasses of sparkling wine, and additional entertainment in attempt to keep passengers entertained and content during the delay.
With passengers having been stranded at sea for seven days, many are now fervently hoping to return to dry land. How much longer must they wait?
Since leaving Wellington, New Zealand the day after Christmas, the ship has been denied permission to dock in Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart. The Australian authorities issued stern warning for the Viking Orion and ordered the vessel’s agent to ensure that the hull was thoroughly cleaned before it could make its way into Australian waters.
“The vessel is required to undergo hull cleaning to remove the biofouling and prevent potentially harmful marine organisms being transported by the vessel,” the Australian fisheries department said yesterday. “Professional divers were engaged directly by the vessel line/agent to clean the hull while at anchor outside Australian waters.”
A Viking representative told The Guardian the vessel would sail for Melbourne and resume its itinerary by Monday but the New York Times reports passengers may not be able to set foot on dry land until later this week.
“A limited amount of standard marine growth is being cleaned from the ship’s hull – a standard cleaning procedure for nautical vessels,” Viking Cruises said in a statement emailed to The Guardian on Sunday. “These unfortunate passengers have been stuck at sea for far too long, and it’s time for them to be able to set foot on dry land finally.”
On Friday the ship’s master penned an apology to passengers regarding the current circumstances. “Viking is working directly with guests on compensation for the impact to their voyage,” said Captain Marko Snajdar
This is not the first bio-fouling incident to hit the cruise industry. Last month, passengers on the Coral Princess had to skip two stops on their journey around New Zealand after an infestation of nonnative mollusks had to be removed from the hull.
The Viking Orion was originally called the Viking Spirit. It was renamed the Orion in 2018 in honor of retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher.
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