More than 2000 cruise passengers were pondering a major decision yesterday, with their ship, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star, docked in Melbourne for repairs after it broke down on the high seas.
The ship lost power while sailing from Australia to New Zealand, disrupting the holidays of more than 2000 passengers. They must now decide whether to continue their cruise or go home.
The ship left Sydney for Auckland on 6 February. Its engines stopped on Friday, leaving it wallowing, adrift and powerless, off the Victorian coast.
Tugs stowed the ship slowly to Melbourne harbour on Saturday evening.
All passengers have been given a full refund, as well as a 50% future cruise credit. Any passengers disembarking in Melbourne are being provided with credit of up to USD 350 per person for a flight to Auckland and up to USD 300 per ticket for a change fee allowance if they wish to fly home immediately.
Reports from Melbourne said most passengers wanted to stay with the cruise. Initial news of the breakdown and consequent delay caused dismay, disappointment and distress aboard. Some passengers cried.
“We want answers,” they chanted.
“We thank our guests for their understanding and patience in this very unusual and unprecedented situation,” NCL said. “While very rare, mechanical equipment malfunctions do occur and we assure our guests that our dedicated team on board is working tirelessly to deliver the absolute very best guest experience possible during this adjusted cruise.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the ship experienced a problem with its propulsion system near Indonesia on a previous cruise and several stops had to be cancelled to reach Sydney on schedule.
Such events at sea are not unknown. Those with long memories may recall that the P&O ship Fair Princess, long since scrapped, broke down on the high seas off the Australian coast in 1989 when saltwater contaminated the freshwater used in the boilers.
Fair Princess was left completely powerless, without air conditioning or refrigeration, before three oceangoing tugs towed it to Brisbane (an unscheduled port of call) for repair.
Subsequent schedule changes and a major storm meant that all ports of call in the Pacific were cancelled, one by one, until Fair Princess finally arrived in Auckland. Refunds were paid to passengers on that cruise as well.
Written by Peter Needham