4 Aug 2008

Storm hit cruise liner finally leaves Auckland

5:12 am on 4 August 2008

The P&O cruise liner the Pacific Sun finally left Auckland on Sunday evening.

The ship was cleared by maritime safety inspectors on Sunday following an incident where more than 40 passengers were injured in heavy seas on Wednesday.

The Pacific Sun was due to depart for an eight day cruise to New Caledonia with more than 1,600 passengers on Saturday night, but was delayed because of deteriorating weather.

P&O says the latest forecast indicates conditions are improving and the ship will now continue on a revised seven day voyage.

The liner docked in Auckland on Friday after it rolled in rough seas on Wednesday night, injuring more than 40 passengers, some seriously.

Maritime New Zealand's General Manager of Maritime Operations, John Mansell, says the ship has been thoroughly checked and meets all the required international safety standards.

Injured passengers

Forty-two passengers needed to be seen by medical staff on the ship and three required medical supervision.

There have been reports of passengers suffering serious injuries, such as lost fingers, broken arms and a passenger losing a foot.

However, P&O's corporate affairs director Sandy Olsen told Radio New Zealand on Friday that no-one has lost a foot or fingers, despite claims from passengers.

The company has confirmed that one passenger has suffered a fractured pelvis, another has broken ribs and four others have minor fractures. The rest of the injured travellers have bruises and cuts.

Passenger Shelly Roxborough was not injured but told Radio New Zealand on Friday she knew of two people who had lost fingers after they got caught in a door.

Ms Roxborough added that one woman broke her pelvis and several other people are nursing fractured arms.

The ship was returning from an eight-day South Pacific cruise carrying 1,732 passengers and 671 crew. It docked safely in Auckland on Friday after being delayed at sea for 24 hours.