Caught on the High Seas: Due to a fungal infection on the ship’s hull, Viking Cruises’ Viking Orion is not allowed to dock.

© Michael Schon / Imago

Nightmare trip instead of dream trip: Passengers on a cruise ship in New Zealand and Australia were not allowed to go ashore for a week. The reason is strange.

They really wanted to celebrate the start of the year with a cruise from New Zealand to Australia – but then the dream trip turned into a nightmare: due to the spread of microorganisms on the hull of their ship, approximately 800 passengers of the “Viking Orion” were not allowed to go ashore. For a week. The Australian news agency AAP reported that “marine growths” had formed on the outer wall of the luxury liner, a so-called biofouling. Colonization by organisms can lead to the introduction and spread of non-native species. Australia has very strict rules on biosecurity risks, among others Other things, to protect the unique flora and fauna.

Sailing due to ‘biofouling’ to ‘voyage to hell’

After the ship set sail in New Zealand’s capital Wellington on Boxing Day, it refused four ports of call: Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island, as well as Hobart in Tasmania, Australia, and Adelaide in South Australia. Before the ship was allowed to set course for Melbourne, it first had to be cleaned by professional divers outside Australian waters – about 22 kilometers from the coast of the city of Victor Harbor.

“The ship needs to clean its hull to remove biofouling and prevent the entry of potentially harmful marine organisms from the ship,” the agency quoted the Ministry of Fisheries as saying. Viking Cruises, the owner of Orion, removed the invasion by professional divers. Passengers had hoped this would allow for the next scheduled stopover on Monday in Melbourne. But then on Sunday the guests reported that the captain had also canceled this stop. Another two-day private cleaning is required, according to a passenger on Twitter.

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“I just want to get off this ship.”

Some passengers have taken to social media to express their anger at the unexpected turnaround in their flight. An American political professor on board wrote that the flight spoiled New Zealand and Australia for her. Her conclusion: “I just want to get off this ship and finally get home.” One passenger told the BBC that “passengers are increasingly frustrated and angry”.

One woman described the vacation on Twitter as “a hell of a trip”. She wrote, according to the BBC, “I cried over and over again, whether over the great financial loss after saving for two years or over the loss of memories and experiences.”

In a letter on Friday, the ship’s captain apologized that “the current cruise did not meet your expectations” and said a member of the Viking customer service team will be offering guests a “modified compensation offer” in the coming days.

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