Cruise Ships Forced to Clean Hulls, Itineraries Impacted

Strict biological measures in New Zealand have caused issues for cruise ships in the past week, forcing vessels to reroute.

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Two cruise ships have been requested to have their hills cleaned before proceeding with sailing their intended itineraries in New Zealand. Both Viking Orion and Regent Seven Seas Explorer have been forced to sail to Australia to have biofouling removed, such as mussels and oysters, algae, sponges, and organisms like crabs and starfish.

Biofouling is a regular occurrence on all ships and typically does not have much of an effect on the local environments that cruise ships sail to. However, due to the remote nature of New Zealand, the country has to be extra careful. Although ships are informed well in advance, it is still being determined why Viking Cruises and Regent Seven Seas did not comply. 

Viking Orion Asked to Leave New Zealand

The cruise ship Viking Orion was recently asked to leave New Zealand waters due to algae on its hull, according to the country’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

The ship first docked in New Zealand in mid-December and was given restricted status, which meant it was only allowed to visit approved ports. This means Viking Orion still visited commercial ports in several cities, including Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, and Auckland.

Viking Orion Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Takamex / Shutterstock

However, the ship was eventually given a final departure date due to the presence of algae and barnacles on its hull, which is known as biofouling. The ship’s operators chose to leave Wellington on December 26 to have the hull cleaned in Australia.

A spokesperson for Viking said that a “limited amount of standard marine growth” had been removed from the ship’s hull during a routine cleaning procedure and that the company was working with guests to compensate them for the impact on their voyage. 

The ship missed several stops on its scheduled itinerary to have the cleaning done, including stops in Christchurch, Dunedin, and Hobart. The Viking Orion arrived in Melbourne on January 2.

New Zealand Has Strict Biological Measures

According to Paul Hallett, an environmental health manager at Biosecurity New Zealand, nearly 90% of marine pests in New Zealand arrive on the submerged surfaces of international vessels. These pests can negatively impact the country’s economy and environment.

“We know that nearly 90 percent of marine pests arrive in this country on the submerged surfaces of international vessels. Such pests can adversely impact New Zealand’s economy and environment. This is why New Zealand has some of the highest biofouling standards in the world.”

“Some don’t have any or minimal impact, but others can cause issues with our marine life, especially in sensitive areas like Fiordland and to commercial industries such as mussel farming.”

A few weeks ago, Coral Princess was forced to clean the hull after that vessel’s hull was found too dirty to enter the Milford Sound National Park. Another cruise ship, the Regent Seven Seas Explorer, has also been denied entry to New Zealand this week. 

Regent Seven Seas Explorer Changes Course to Australia

The Regent Seven Seas Explorer cruise ship also faced some unexpected challenges during its recent voyage to New Zealand. The ship is required to undergo a cleaning operation of its hull before entering the country. 

However, the New Zealand authorities did not approve of the procedure in the bay of Nelson, leading to the modification of the ship’s itinerary.

Regent Seven Seas Explorer set sail from Sydney on December 29. After stops in Melbourne and Geelong, as well as Burnie, Tasmania, the ship was due in Dunedin, New Zealand, on January 6.

Seven Seas Explorer Cruise Ship
Seven Seas Explorer Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock)

To fulfill the necessary cleaning requirements, the ship’s technical team attempted to organize the operation in multiple ports. Despite their efforts, the unavailability of recognized diving companies approved by the New Zealand authorities ultimately led to rerouting to Adelaide, Australia. 

The cruise line sent a letter to guests onboard, which stated the following: “Unfortunately, this change in itinerary means that the ship will have to travel directly from Adelaide to Auckland, foregoing the remaining ports of call from the originally scheduled itinerary. This is a disappointment to the guests on board, and the cruise company recognizes that it falls short of the “Unrivaled Experience” that Regent is known for providing.”

In an effort to compensate for the modified itinerary, Regent Seven Seas will be offering a 50% refund on the paid cruise-only fare, as well as a 50% Future Cruise Credit. 

The ship will likely miss the following ports of call: Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, and the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Regent Seven Seas Explorer is due in Auckland on January 12.

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