(CNN) – A cruise ship was prevented from docking in Australia due to fungal growth on the ship’s hull, according to statements issued by the cruise line and Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (DAFF).
The DAFF National Maritime Coordination Center was notified of “small amounts of biofoul” on the hull of the Viking Orion on December 28, DAFF said, adding that biofoul is a common accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or small animals on vessel hulls.
According to DAFF, the management of such biofoul is common practice for all incoming international vessels.
“To protect the marine ecosystems within Australian waters the vessel is required to undergo hull cleaning to remove the biofoul and prevent potentially harmful marine organisms being transported by the vessel,” DAFF said in its statement, adding that professional divers cleaned the hull while the ship was anchored outside Australian waters, approximately 12 nautical miles offshore from the port of Adelaide in the state of South Australia.
“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,” a statement issued by Viking said.
The statement added that Viking is working directly with guests on compensation due to the impact to their trip.
DAFF also confirmed that as per the current itinerary, the ship – which holds 930 guests – is scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on January 2.
Although this is the first cruise ship-related incident of 2023, it is not the first of the Australian summer season.
In November 2022, a cruise ship docked in Sydney with several hundred Covid-positive passengers on board. All those who tested positive – which included passengers and crew members – were isolated on the ship away from others.
The ship, the Majestic Princess operated by Carnival, was able to continue the rest of its Australia itinerary.