An infestation of snails interrupted a cruise from Australia to New Zealand.
The 2400-passenger ship had departed on a festive 2-week roundtrip voyage that left on December 19th from Brisbane QLD Australia, which would include NZ for Christmas and a New Year’s eve celebration at sea.
However, on the first of 3 days of Tasman Sea crossing from Australia to New Zealand, the vacationers were notified by the Captain of planned itinerary changes, including canceling Fiordland NP (Milford Sound's scenic cruising) and skipping Port Chalmers/Dunedin the following day.
The cruise company issued a follow-up statement stating that on the direction of the Ministry for Primary Industries, Coral Princess would be undertaking the hull cleaning ahead of her arrival in New Zealand.
Princess Cruises said they were "taking proactive measures to remove a species of mollusks not native to the area so that there is no unintended transfer in particularly sensitive areas of New Zealand.”
“While these circumstances are rare, they do occur from time to time… guests will now spend a few extra days at sea before spending Christmas in Christchurch as scheduled.”
The itinerary change means that vacationers from Brisbane will be aboard the liner for 5 days before they reach the first port of call.
The Coral Princess ship continued to New Zealand's east coast, where she was sitting ~50 mi / ~80 km off Tauranga south of Auckland while the snails were being removed. Passengers posted photos of a dive boat beginning work late on Thursday afternoon, December 22. They were reporting the captain had told them the operation could take up to 24 hours to remove the snails from discharge pipes in the ship's hull.
New Zealand has some of the strictest biofouling regulations. ~90% of marine pests arrive in the country on the submerged surfaces of international ships. Over the past 3 years, New Zealand reports that ~6% of vessels scheduled to call in its cruise ports have been required to clean their hulls prior to entering New Zealand’s waters.
For more Coral Princess incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.