Home Cruise Safely Cruise Ship Azamara Quest ‘hit rocks in Marlborough’

Azamara Quest

by Oliver Lewis of stuff.co.nz

Damage has been found to the hull of the Azamara Quest, a luxury cruise ship that is being investigated following an incident in the Marlborough Sounds. The ship, owned by Azamara Club Cruises, entered Tory Channel on January 27 with a Port Marlborough pilot on board.

Two investigations, by Maritime New Zealand and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) were launched after reports the ship came into contact with Wheki Rock, immediately west of the entrance to Okukari Bay. Maritime New Zealand spokesman Vince Cholewa said police divers from the Wellington Maritime Unit had found paint on the side of the rock.

The investigation also found damage to the hull of the ship, he said. TAIC spokesman Peter Northcote said two investigators had boarded the ship when it arrived in Napier to collect evidence. However, he would not comment further until the results of the investigation were released, which could take up to 18 months.

Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb said an internal investigation had been launched. The pilot who was guiding the ship had been suspended, pending further information about the incident, though McNabb said he could not comment further while the matter was under investigation. A passenger, who did not wish to be named, said the incident occurred about 9.20am and the ship docked at Waitohi Wharf, in Picton, about 11am.

The ship, which was carrying 652 passengers and 394 crew members at the time, departed Picton about 7pm on the same day for Napier. In a statement, the company, which is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the safety of passengers and crew was its number-one priority.

They acknowledged the ship had passed “closer than expected” to the side of the Tory Channel but would not comment further while investigations were ongoing.

Following the incident, Azamara Quest finished its 16-night cruise and had since embarked on a further 13-day sailing, arriving back in Picton on Saturday.

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