Thousands on Australian cruise ship turned away over failed biosecurity standards

P&O's Pacific Adventure cruise ship.
P&O's Pacific Adventure cruise ship. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Thousands of people on an Australian cruise ship have been turned away from New Zealand shores because the vessel did not meet biosecurity standards.

P&O runs a 13-day "Kiwi Adventure" voyage, taking passengers from Sydney, sailing around New Zealand and stopping at different cities.

In a statement, Biosecurity New Zealand said there were concerning levels of biofouling on the vessel named "Pacific Adventure".

Northern regional commissioner Mike Inglis said the operator sent photos showing the ship had high-risk organisms growing on it that could pose a risk to New Zealand.

He said P&O attempted to clean the hull and specifically the areas of concern in recent days, however, abandoned this due to bad weather.

In a statement the company said the ship left Sydney on Monday for a hull cleaning in the waters near the Bay of Plenty as per biosecurity requirements.

But it said the poor weather made it too dangerous for divers to clean the hull underwater and the cruise ship did not gain clearance to enter Aotearoa.

Underwater cleaning opportunities in the Pacific were extremely limited and could only be completed offshore.

The biosecurity authority says the Australian cruise ship turned away from New Zealand waters had high risk mussel and oyster growth.

Inglis said bioflouling is a major threat with almost 90 percent of all exotic marine species and growth already in New Zealand having arrived on international vessels.

"Our biosecurity rules are in place to protect us against pests such as exotic caulpera which can impact New Zealand's environment, unique marine ecosystems, aquaculture industry, and economy".

Inglis appreciates it is difficult to clean a ship hull, particularly when it is often dictated by the weather.

He said Biosecurity New Zealand is working closely with cruise lines to ensure vessels arrive clean this summer.

"Biosecurity New Zealand staff visited Sydney earlier in the year and met with Carnival [umbrella company to P&O] to reinforce our requirements and has continued to meet and engage regularly with the cruise operator and others in preparation for the new season", Inglis said.

P&O said the cruiseship was now on its way to Tasmania instead.

It said guests were notified prior to departure that there could be changes to the itinerary, "due to New Zealand's strict biosecurity requirements".

The almost 2800 guests had been offered additional compensation in light of the change of voyage.