NCL’s Norwegian Star, plagued with problems over the last three weeks, is due to sail for Auckland tomorrow.
Almost one third of the passengers have now left the ship – meaning two thirds are staying with the vessel.
A company statement today said: “Norwegian Star is currently undergoing repairs to the ship’s azipod propulsion system while docked at the Port of Melbourne. All guests are comfortable and enjoying the ship’s amenities or time ashore in Melbourne.
“A small number of guests have chosen to disembark and transportation to the airport is being provided for those guests.
“The ship is expected to depart during the afternoon on February 14, arriving to Auckland on February 18 to resume her scheduled itinerary.”
The Norwegian Star twice broke down with propulsions problems, last week 20 miles off Melbourne. She had to be towed by two tags into Melbourne port.
A company statement last week said: “Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely extends its deepest apologies to guests for the inconveniences they have encountered.
“All guests onboard were provided a full refund, as well as a 50% future cruise credit. In the event any guest wishes to disembark once the ship returns to port, Norwegian will provide them with a credit of up to $350 per person for a flight to Auckland and provide up to $300 per ticket for a change fee allowance if a guest wishes to fly home immediately.
“We thank our guests for their understanding and patience in this very unusual and unprecedented situation. While very rare, mechanical equipment malfunctions do occur and we assure our guests that our dedicated team on board is working tirelessly to deliver the absolute very best guest experience possible during this adjusted cruise.”
The Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper on Monday spoke of passengers praising staff for their service
The paper reported: “Stranded passengers on-board the Norwegian Star have to spoken exclusively to the Herald Sun about the selfless acts of kindness shown by crew members, with some saying they will continue on with the cruise once it docks at Port Melbourne.
“Passenger Katrina Beagley said the ship’s crew have gone out of their way to ensure passengers are safe and happy. “They are trying to grant your every wish,” Ms Beagley said. “There’s no way I’m going home tomorrow. There are a team of chefs on board, waiting to cook my meals for the next seven days,” she said.
Passenger Carl VanAlstyne said the crew behaved professionally and were very accommodating, despite there being many disgruntled passengers. “Our waiter treats us as if we were family… The crew are offering computer usage and a concierge has also allowed us to call outside the ship using his phone,” he said.
Fairfax Media spoke to passengers while the ship was still on the water, and said the situation was “dire”. The organisation claimed some passengers were bursting into tears and were “distraught”.
The AGE newspaper in Melbourne reported on footage of passengers chanting, “we want answers”. A man on the Norwegian Star can be heard yelling, “what do we want?” before a large crowd responds with, “answers”. However, it was unclear when the footage was taken.
The latest problem to hit the ship comes in the first visit by one of the line’s vessels in 13 years, and has seen angry passenger meetings and even an American put ashore in Queensland for inciting passengers.
Each of the 16-year-old ship’s two Anzipod propulsion units individually broke down during its journey down the Queensland coast, and a new part had to be made for each.
When she left Sydney for Melbourne, it was assumed she would make it on one propulsion unit.
A Norwegian Cruise Lines executive said it mean the ship could only travel at around 19 knots instead of its usual 23.
Earlier, Norwegian Cruise Lines announced a “generous” compensation package for passengers of $1,000 cash and another cruise free to the equivalent cost of the current journey.
Most passengers accepted – but on American passenger was ordered off the ship when he refused to deal and continued to try and organise passenger meetings.