Pacific Star Cruise Ship Wave Damage Auckland New Zealand – On July 10, 2007, P&O Cruises Pacific Star left Auckland with 1160 passengers for an 8 day cruise that became a cruise through hell. The tiny, aging cruise ship was battered by gale force winds (see video below) and 30 foot waves. Passengers and furnishings were tossed by 50-knot winds, with gusts up to 70 knots.
The ship left port at 1600 hours (4:00 pm) on Monday afternoon. At that time, winds were already at 20-25 knots, and only two hours later when the winds reached 40 knots, the port of Auckland was closed altogether. If ever there was a sign that a voyage should have been cancelled, clearly this was one.
MetService duty forecaster Allister Gorman said the first official warning of “storm-force winds” – winds over 50 knots – was issued on Monday July 9, 2007 at 1100 hours (11:00 am), a full 27 hours before the ship was scheduled to depart Auckland.
The Pacific Star was built 25 years ago in 1982, is only 205 meters long, and weighs in at only 35000 gross tonnes. It is a baby compared to modern cruise ships.
Apparently, over at P & O Cruises there is no plan to make use of the national weather service to predict severe weather, and then taking responsible action, to avoid such severe weather. Instead, the cruise line sent his ship, captained by Captain Ivan Jerman, loaded with 1,160 passengers looking for a good time, into a severe storm.
If a good time is measured by how much time a passenger spends on their knees at the toilet, this bunch had a fabulous time.
Though windows, satellite equipment, and external doors were smashed and the bow of the ship was crushed by blow after blow of crashing waves, the cruise line maintains the passengers were “never in danger”. They did not however say how a ship could be that severely damaged, obviously physically endangered and the passengers onboard not be endangered.
At one point the captain moved the ship behind Great Barrier Island to try to protect the vessel from the storm. When he realized that was not going well, and the vessel might be forced to crash onto the shore, he made a run for it into open-seas, where the vessel could try to ride out the extremely high seas.
Though the ship was able to sail as sea-worthy, she dumped her 1,160 passengers on the tiny island of Vanatu, and headed with crew onboard to dry dock, under her own steam.
P&O spokeswoman Sandy Olsen said the bow was being repaired in Vila, before the ship sailed to Brisbane, without passengers, for a thorough inspection.
Passengers were left to fly out on chartered flights over the next several days. Many of those passengers were enraged that P & O decided to take passengers through a “bloody storm” instead of delaying the voyage.
Conditions were so bad the ship had to cancel a planned stopover in Lifou, New Caledonia, instead heading straight for Vila for its scheduled Friday night stopover.
The 1,350-passenger capacity Pacific Star, was built as the Carnival Tropicale in 1982. The last refit was in 2001 after being transferred to Costa Cruises and becoming the Costa Tropicale. When Costa dumped the vessel on P & O in 2005, she became the Pacific Star.
UPDATE: July 16, 2007 – Passengers returning home tell of passengers lying on the decks everywhere, in restaurants, hallways, stairwells and other public areas of the ship, unable to get up due to the sickness. Reports of toilets overflowing with sewage, and the floors covered in debris and elevators that no longer worked, leaving handicap passengers stranded on whatever deck they were on at the time.
Another misfortune was the ships featured movie was, “The Titanic”, adding further to already distressed passenger
Video: Pacific Star – A month of frustration AUG 07