Norwegian Star cruise ship towed to Melbourne for repairs

The stricken cruise ship, the Norwegian Star Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

The stricken cruise ship, the Norwegian Star Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

A cruise liner that lost power off the Victorian coast on its way to New Zealand with thousands of passengers on board is being towed back to Melbourne for repairs.

The Norwegian Star spent Friday adrift after losing power about 30 kilometres off Cape Liptrap, near Wilsons Promontory.

Two tug boats left to rescue the 965-foot liner about midday on Friday and on Saturday morning were towing it into Melbourne.

A Norwegian Star spokeswoman said it would arrive at the Port of Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.

"The tug boats have arrived and are towing the ship," she said. "In terms of the timing, it's something the captain is working on.

"We don't have a specific time yet because it depends on how fast the tugs are. The movement will be extremely slow given the sheer size of Star. I think it will be later today," she said on Saturday morning.

The Norwegian Star as it cleared Point Gellibrand at Williamstown about 1845 hours on Thursday.

The Norwegian Star as it cleared Point Gellibrand at Williamstown about 1845 hours on Thursday.

A spokesman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the cruise liner was about 40 kilometres from Port Phillip at 7am on Saturday.

Distressed passengers were in tears on Friday, with the ship stranded and their holiday plans in disarray.

The Norwegian Star, departed from Sydney on February 6 carrying more than 2000 passengers and was bound for New Zealand.

A passenger on the stranded ship on Friday. Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

A passenger on the stranded ship on Friday. Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

It is the second round of engine trouble to strike the ship after it departed from Hong Kong on January 16 for Sydney.

A man phoning from the ship, who did not wish to be named, told Fairfax Media passengers were devastated and crying.

"It's a bloody nightmare," he said.

"We're stuck in the middle of the ocean. It's scary. Especially with Melbourne's weather being quite changeable."

A woman, who also didn't wish to be named, said her friend was on board the ship and had phoned to tell her about the situation.

"The mood on board is dire," she said.

A spokeswoman for operator Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) said the ship's azipod propulsion system had experienced a technical malfunction early Friday morning.

"The ship has full power and all on board services are fully operational," she said.

The spokeswoman said those passengers wishing to disembark at Melbourne would be given a credit of up to $350 each for a flight to Auckland, or up to $300 each to change their flight if they wanted to leave immediately.

with Chloe Booker and Neelima Choahan

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