Storm brews over compensation for rescue of yachtsman

Safe … Alain Delord, centre, aboard the MV Orion.
Safe … Alain Delord, centre, aboard the MV Orion.

A CRUISE ship company is refusing to say whether it will compensate passengers whose holidays were diverted to rescue a French sailor off the Tasmanian coast.

The MV Orion was 11 days into an 18-day Antarctic cruise when it changed course to come to the rescue of the French national, Alain Delord, on Sunday night.

Mr Delord sent out a distress call on Friday after abandoning his yacht, forcing the Orion to change course and miss a promised stop on Macquarie Island.

Fairfax understands the starting price for a cabin on the ship was about $20,000. But Orion Expeditions, the cruise operator, on Monday refused to answer repeated questions about the cost of the rescue and whether it would compensate passengers.

''Everybody on board this ship has paid a price for this rescue,'' said Don McIntyre, who led the Orion's expedition to rescue Mr Delord. ''The passengers have had to give up a major part of their expedition.''

Mr McIntyre said while passengers were initially annoyed at missing the Macquarie Island stop, they had not complained or questioned the decision since.

''I'm yet to see anyone that's grumbling,'' he said. ''No one ever questioned the intent or reason why we were going to pick Alain up.''

The government was also refusing to answer questions about the cost of Mr Delord's rescue.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it did not comment on the cost of rescues. An AMSA plane identified Mr Delord's position and dropped him provisions.

An AMSA spokeswoman said it was unlikely the cruise ship company would receive compensation for the rescue as the ship was obliged to divert its course under the international Safety of Life at Sea convention.

Mr Delord was apparently planning to thank the ship's guests and crew for his rescue on Monday night.

He was pursuing a long-held ambition of following the path of the round-the-world Vendee Globe Race - but not officially competing in it - when the mast on his yacht broke.

This story Storm brews over compensation for rescue of yachtsman first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.