P&O Cruises has pledged to compensate passengers returning to Newcastle after a ‘‘technical fault’’ forced the cruise ship Pacific Sun to leave New Zealand ahead of schedule, missing two destinations.
A spokesman for the cruise line said the announcement was made on Friday night after the ship left Akaroa.
He said Pacific Sun had a ‘‘technical fault in one engine’’.
‘‘The ship is cruising safely but at a lower speed,’’ he said.
‘ ‘... New Zealand is under considerable pressure [due to the state of emergency in Christchurch] and it was not practical to do the repairs there.’’
Christchurch was an intended destination for the luxury cruise liner but was cancelled because of the earthquake, before the engine problems were discovered.
The Newcastle Herald spoke to the daughter of two passengers on board the ship who said her parents were ‘‘cranky’’ and ‘‘frightened’’ that the ship was attempting an ocean crossing with engine trouble.
They also said they had not been given enough information or the opportunity to dock in New Zealand and fly back to Newcastle.
‘‘They honestly didn’t care [about compensation], the changed itinerary was not the issue, it was a lack of information,’’ she said.
The ship and its passengers could not be contacted yesterday but a spokesman said: ‘‘We recognise the natural disappointment passengers are feeling.’’
He said passengers had been compensated $50 for each destination missed, onto their onboard account, and the ship’s crew had increased entertainment.
P&O Cruises operator Carnival Australia’s director of corporate affairs Sandy Olsen said the ship would ‘‘never sail if there was anything to compromise safety’’.
Pacific Sun is expected to reach Newcastle on Wednesday, its intended destination time.
The incident follows the Pacific Sun’s troubled maiden voyage out of Newcastle in September, which was marred by a forklift plunging into the harbour and passengers being left stranded after disembarking from the Dyke Point terminal with no connecting transport.