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Cruise ship’s shaggy bottom strands Viking passengers at sea

The Viking Orion is shipshape above the waterline but an overgrown mess below. <i>Photo: Viking</i>

The Viking Orion is shipshape above the waterline but an overgrown mess below. Photo: Viking

Hundreds of passengers stranded on a cruise ship off South Australia are hoping to set foot on dry land for the first time in seven days after the vessel was unable to dock at several ports due to a “marine growth”.

The Viking Orion hasn’t docked in a port since it cast off from Wellington in New Zealand on Boxing Day, according to ship tracking website VesselFinder.com.

The ship was reportedly denied permission to dock to have its hull cleaned in Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart and Adelaide before Viking arranged for divers to remove the marine growth about 17 nautical miles off Victor Harbour in South Australia.

A Viking representative says the vessel will sail for Melbourne on Sunday and resume its itinerary by Monday.

“A limited amount of standard marine growth is being cleaned from the ship’s hull – a standard cleaning procedure for nautical vessels,” they told AAP in an emailed statement on Sunday.

Compensation pledged

“While the ship needed to miss several stops on this itinerary in order for the required cleaning to be conducted, she is expected to sail for Melbourne as planned on January 1, and we are expecting the scheduled itinerary to resume completely by January 2.

“Viking is working directly with guests on compensation for the impact to their voyage.”

The ship’s Master Marko Snajdar wrote a letter to passengers on Friday apologising for the situation which was screened on multiple TV news channels.

“We acknowledge that the current cruise falls short of your expectations. Immediately upon your return a member of our Customer Relations team will contact you with an adjusted offer of compensation,” he wrote.

“Viking is interested in keeping you as lifetime travellers, and we hope to see you under less exceptional circumstances on one of our ships in the future.”

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