Stricken cruise liner Norwegian Star moors in Australia after losing power at sea

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

A cruise ship that lost power en route from Australia to New Zealand, ruining holiday plans for more than 2000 travellers, has moored in Melbourne for repairs.

The Norwegian Star departed from Sydney on February 6, en route to Auckland, but suffered a technical malfunction on Friday, leaving it adrift off the Victorian coast.

The ship was slowly towed to Melbourne harbour by tugs on Saturday evening, and moored in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

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

Distressed passengers were filmed erupting in anger on the disabled ship, chanting "we want answers".

In a video, a man was heard yelling "what do we want?", before a large crowd responded with "answers".

The Norwegian Star was docked at Station Pier, Port Melbourne on Thursday morning. Photo: Leigh Henningham

The Norwegian Star was docked at Station Pier, Port Melbourne on Thursday morning. Photo: Leigh Henningham

He then yelled "when do we want them?" and the crowd responded "now". 

The video was posted to YouTube, but it was not clear when it was shot.

A Norwegian Cruise Lines spokeswoman said the ship's propulsion system had experienced a technical malfunction early Friday morning.

The Norwegian Star was adrift off the Victorian coast on Friday.

The Norwegian Star was adrift off the Victorian coast on Friday.

Passengers were welcome to stay on board the ship while docked in Melbourne or explore the city as repairs were underway, and then continue onto Auckland as part of a revised itinerary, she said.

The company has offered passengers a full refund as well as a 50 per cent credit for a future cruise.

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

The Norwegian Star, drifting in the middle of the ocean. Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

The Norwegian Star, drifting in the middle of the ocean. Photo: Courtesy of Seven News

She said the Auckland itinerary, starting February 18, was expected to continue according to schedule.

On Friday, a man phoning from the ship said passengers were devastated and crying.

"It's a bloody nightmare," the man, who did not wish to be named, said.

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

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

"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.

Steve T Raney posted on Facebook: "WE have NO engines for propulsion!!! WE are afloat in the ocean!!!"

He wrote that passengers were safe and comfortable.

The ship, which departed Hong Kong on January 16, also had problems in another part of the engine about nine days into the voyage.

The spokeswoman said attempts were made to repair the fault, but the cruise liner could not travel at speed.

The ship skipped up to five ports in order to reach Sydney, its final destination, on time.

One passenger was forced to disembark at Cairns after he reportedly raised concerns about the ship's safety.

The spokeswoman confirmed the man was asked to leave the ship in Cairns, because his behaviour was distressing other passengers.

"He and his travel companion were provided with transportation and airline tickets to return home," she said.

"Norwegian takes this matter very seriously, as all guests are entitled to a safe and hospitable environment in which to enjoy their holiday."

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