Viking Orion arrived in Sydney today after being forced to change itineraries after New Zealand authorities claim to have found “biofouling” on its hull.

The vessel is not alone.  Regent Seven Seas Explorer and Coral Princess also had to have hull work carried out, thanks to the tough laws in New Zealand waters.

Various objects and sea life can get stuck to a ship’s hull, and it’s by no means unusual.  New Zealand is, however, particularly strict and this round of ship stoppages has surprised many.

The Coral Princess had to clean its hull just before Christmas, and Viking Orion, which was in the middle of a cruise in New Zealand when it diverted from Wellington on Boxing Day for hull cleaning in Australia.

Viking issued a statement saying: “The Viking Orion arrived in Melbourne, Australia on January 2 (local time) and was admitted to port. The ship has now returned to her planned itinerary and is currently sailing toward Sydney, where she is expected to arrive on January 4 (local time).

“Following the exterior cleaning of a limited amount of standard marine growth (commonly known as marine biofouling or algae) from the ship’s hull—a routine cleaning procedure for nautical vessels—the ship unfortunately missed several ports on this itinerary. As compensation for the impact to their voyage, Viking has provided all guests on board with a voucher valued at 100% of what they paid to Viking that can be used for any future voyage.”

Regent Seven Seas also issued a statement: Seven Seas Explorer is currently sailing a 14-night cruise which guests embarked on December 29, 2022, and are scheduled to disembark in Auckland, New Zealand on January 12, 2023. Due to local regulations to enter New Zealand navigational waters, a cleaning operation of Seven Seas Explorer’s hull is required. The cleaning must be carried out by a company recognised by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, none of which have been available at ports the ship has recently visited or will visit before its scheduled entry to New Zealand waters.”

 The statement said Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ technical teams arranged for the cleaning operation to be carried out off the coast of Adelaide, and the ship sailed to South Australia.

“All guests on board have been offered compensation, and a number of guests chose to disembark in Adelaide to make their onward travels. We understand and apologise for the inconvenience, frustration, and disappointment this disruption has caused to our valued guests, and we appreciate their continued understanding.

Associate Professor Sophie Leterme told AAP Organic build-up on ship hulls including bacteria, plankton, sea grasses, mussels and barnacles can enable “stowaway” species to reach Australia.

“If they make it to our reefs, they might decimate the environment and cause some serious issues,” she said.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is also believed to have offered passengers a compensation package.