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Hundreds of passengers stranded on cruise ship off the coast of Australia due to ‘marine growth’

Melbourne, AustraliaEdited By: Nishtha BadgamiaUpdated: Jan 01, 2023, 09:25 PM IST
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Subsequently, the officials asked the Viking Orion’s agent to get it cleaned before entering Australian waters, said the report. (Representative Image) Photograph:(Reuters)

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This comes after Australia’s National Maritime Coordination Centre confirmed that they found small amounts of “biofoul” on the ship’s hull, which includes marine microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals. Australia's fisheries department said the fungus, which it called biofoul, was "potentially harmful". Biofoul, an accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animal, can allow the importation of invasive species into non-native habitats.

The passengers on a Viking Cruises ship were left stranded off the South Australian coast after several ports refused the vessel to dock due to the “marine growth” in the ship’s hull. The Viking Orion which left Wellington, New Zealand on Boxing Day (December 26) has reportedly not docked since and hundreds on board were left stranded on New Year’s on the ship.  

According to a report by the Australian Associated Press, the ship had been denied permission on three coasts including Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart, before leaving for Adelaide. This comes after Australia’s National Maritime Coordination Centre confirmed that they found small amounts of “biofoul” on the ship’s hull, which includes marine microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals.

Subsequently, the officials asked the Viking Orion’s agent to get it cleaned before entering Australian waters, said the report. Furthermore, Canberra’s fisheries department, on Sunday, said, “The vessel is required to undergo hull cleaning to remove the biofoul and prevent potentially harmful marine organisms being transported by the vessel.” 

They also said that the management of biofoul is a common practice for ships arriving from international waters. “Professional divers were engaged directly by the vessel line/agent to clean the hull while at anchor outside Australian waters,” said the Australian fisheries department.

On Friday, the ship’s master, Marko Snajdar also issued an apology to the passengers, acknowledging the situation and saying that immediately after they arrive, “A member of our customer relations team will contact you with an adjusted offer of compensation.”  

Meanwhile, some passengers took to Twitter to voice their complaints, "Shame on  @VikingCruises for their negligence. They have now cancelled 3 of our 8 ports, including all of prime South New Zealand & Hobart," said one user on Tuesday. He added, "A dirty & biohazard ship bottom. After 2 years of waiting, Viking disappoints. Great food but poor ship hygiene. Buyer beware." 

ALSO READ | Australia: Cruise ship docks in Sydney after 800 passengers test positive for Covid-19

Additionally, a representative from Viking Cruises said that the ship will sail for Melbourne on Sunday and move forward with its itinerary as planned by Monday, reported the AAP. 

Addressing the biofoul found on the ship’s hull, the representative in an emailed statement told AAP, "a limited amount of standard marine growth is being cleaned from the ship’s hull" and that they are “working directly with passengers” to compensate them for the “impact to their voyage.”

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