Hundreds of passengers have been stranded on a cruise ship off Australia after a potentially harmful “marine growth” was found on its hull.
The Viking Orion was reportedly denied permission to dock in Adelaide after authorities discovered “biofoul” — an accumulation of micro-organisms, plants, algae or small animals.
Officials said the ship's hull must be cleaned before entering Australia, the BBC reported.
Divers had to remove the biofoul from the 930-berth ship while it was anchored in international waters, the Australian government said.
The cleaning was required to protect Australia's waters from “potentially harmful marine organisms”, the fisheries department told AFP.
The nine-deck Viking Orion, which was built in 2018 and has a spa, theatre, sports deck and pool, left Auckland on December 23, according to tracking website vesselfinder.com.
It showed the cruise liner had made no port calls since leaving the New Zealand capital, Wellington, on December 26 — missing stops in Christchurch, Dunedin and the Tasmanian state capital of Hobart.
“While the ship needed to miss several stops on this itinerary in order for the required cleaning to be conducted, she is expected to resume the current itinerary,” operator Viking told AFP.
“Viking is working directly with guests on compensation for the impact to their voyage.”
After being cleaned in international waters off Adelaide, the ship is expected to arrive in Melbourne later on Tuesday, the company and the Australian government said.
Viking confirmed it had to remove “a limited amount of standard marine growth” from the hull.