Rough cruise 'best trip ever'

Last updated 23:50 01/08/2008

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A Hamilton man on board the cruise ship which hit huge seas says news reports of the events are a storm in a teacup.

Inde Chandra and his family were on their first cruise, which he described as "the best trip ever".

"The media reports have way overplayed it," he said.

The Pacific Sun, with 1732 people on board, struck trouble 600km north of Auckland on Wednesday night when it ran into 50 knot winds and 7m swells.

Forty passengers were treated by on board medical staff that night.

Mr Chandra said the captain warned passengers the ship was hitting bad weather as it approached New Zealand and at no time did he or his family fear for their lives.

"The swells got to about 7m and the captain turned the ship so we were going with the swell, rather than against it. The captain then told us we were going to turn to get back on to a safer course and it was in that manoeuvre that we hit two waves at once.

"Unfortunately it was enough to smash crockery and send tables flying. Some people were injured, but some just panicked ... I think it was more a mental thing."

He said some people received minor cuts and bruises. "There were people with some more serious injuries needing medical assistance, but I don't know the details.

"Some people were freaking out, but all the crew were saying was to go down below to our cabins because there would be less rocking and so people who needed treatment got it quickly."

Mr Chandra said the captain and crew were amazing and walked around every cabin to check passengers were okay. "They were so safety conscious."

The ship reached Auckland about 2pm yesterday afternoon, more than 24 hours later than its original arrival time of about 7am Thursday.

"I felt sorry for the crew. They fed everyone, made sure we were all okay and they were happy the whole time. They really stepped up it probably increased my respect for them."

A spokesman for ship-owner P and O, Anthony Fisk, said the course for the cruise between Vanuatu and Auckland was planned to avoid as much of the bad weather as possible, but the ship had been caught out.

Damage to the ship was superficial, but was likely to delay the departure of its next cruise.

Mr Fisk said the company would do all it could to help passengers, including offering compensation on a case-by-case basis.

A Maritime New Zealand investigator will look into what happened.

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- Waikato Times

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