Outcry as P&O cruise refused entry to New Zealand over dirty hull

Pacific Adventure

Passengers on a P&O cruise have expressed disappointment at their ‘cruise to nowhere’ after their vessel was denied entry to a New Zealand port over biosecurity concerns.

Many people aboard the P&O Pacific Adventure cruise, which recently departed Sydney and was due to visit New Zealand for 13 nights, have started suffering from sea sickness due to the prolonged period the vessel has spent on choppy ocean swells.

“The sick bags are quickly disappearing from the stairwells,” 21-year-old Jake Welch told The Guardian. “I feel for all the people who get seasick; we have had five to 10m swells almost every day.”

The cruise should have made stops at several ports across New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington and Fiordland National Park.

Cruise ship refused entry

The country’s strict biosecurity laws mean that vessels cannot dock until any invasive species are removed from their hull.

“Almost 90 per cent of the exotic marine species already in New Zealand likely arrived here as marine growth on the submerged surfaces of international vessels,” Mike Inglis, Biosecurity New Zealand’s northern regional commissioner, tells USA Today.

The vessel was due to undergo a cleaning in the Bay of Plenty, to remove creatures including three juvenile mussels and a single hydroid, or Lace Coral. However, poor conditions meant the dive team could not complete the process.

The cruise will now stop at Hobart and Port Arthur in Tasmania and Eden on the south coast.

“It is very disappointing we never even got to see NZ but overall a holiday is still a holiday,” Welch continues. “It does seem like lots of people have had their plans ruined.”

Radio New Zealand reports one couple on the ship, Janine Sherriff and Kyle Risk, had planned their dream wedding at Hobbiton — The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie set — in New Zealand this week, and have been forced to cancel their nuptials at the last minute.

Some passengers have taken to Facebook to express their disappointment.

“My wife and I are on this crummy cruise to nowhere, very disappointing, never travelling on P&O again,” wrote one passenger.

“I’m furious P&O think this is acceptable,” said another.

P&O initially attempted to offer all guests a 50 per cent credit off a future P&O cruise as compensation, provoking an “outcry,” according to Welch. The firm has now changed the offer to a full refund, plus $300 onboard credit per person.

“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,” a spokesperson says.

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

The incident is the latest in a line of cruises to be impacted by poor weather.

In August, 300 plus guests on a P&O cruise liner were flown home after Britannia was impacted by severe weather when alongside in Palma de Mallorca.

And, earlier this month, Saga’s Spirit of Discovery returned to the UK after 100 passengers were injured in a ‘frightening’ storm off western France.

Main image: Pacific Adventure in Sydney Harbour. Image courtesy of Dicklyon, via Wikimedia Commons.

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