11 Feb 2017

Second fault in two weeks for stricken cruise ship

5:54 pm on 11 February 2017

A luxury cruise ship broken down off Victoria's coast with more than 3000 passengers and crew on board also experienced a problem with its propulsion system a fortnight ago, the company has revealed.

The Norwegian Star cruise ship

The Norwegian Star cruise ship Photo: 123rf.com

The 91,000 tonne Norwegian Star is being towed into Port Phillip Bay after it became stranded and is expected to dock in Melbourne on Saturday night.

Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed the ship's propulsion system stopped working in the early hours of Friday, about 30 kilometres off Wilson's Promontory.

The cruise was bound for New Zealand and the ship was en route to Tasmania and was due to dock there after leaving Melbourne when the fault occurred.

The vessel, which left Sydney on Monday, still has power and "all on-board services are fully operational".

It is unclear whether the stop at Burnie would have to be scrapped to make it to Auckland by 18 February, as originally planned.

In late January, the ship experienced a problem with its propulsion system near Indonesia and several stops had to be scrapped to make it to Sydney on schedule.

A technical issue "unrelated to the propulsion system" occurred in December.

A previous letter signed by the Norwegian Star's Master Mattias Andersson described last month's problem as "unforeseen".

"We apologise for the change in schedule and thank you for your patience during this necessary itinerary change in order to make these required repairs," he said.

Passengers to get full refund

A spokeswoman for the company, Anne Wild, described the latest fault as "very usual" and said passengers would be financially compensated.

"All guests onboard were provided a full refund, as well as a 50 percent future cruise credit," she said.

"In the event any guest wishes to disembark once the ship returns to port, Norwegian will provide them with a credit of up to $350 per person for a flight to Auckland and provide up to $300 per ticket for a change fee allowance if a guest wishes to fly home immediately."

But it seems passengers are frustrated - with a video appearing online of them chanting 'we want answers'.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said a representative from Melbourne's port would board the ship when it reached the Port Phillip Bay heads, which was expected to happen early this afternoon.

Meanwhile, transport accident investigators have boarded a luxury French cruise ship which docked in Dunedin this morning.

L'Austral hit rocks in Milford Sound on Thursday, causing minor damage to its hull.

It's the second time this year investigators have been called to look into an incident involving L'Austral.

Cruise New Zealand declined to comment on the incidents as they are individual operational issues.


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