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Sea Princess passengers stranded ashore in New Zealand
The Sea Princess arrived in Akaroa Harbour New Zealand marking the start of the cruise season shortly before before the severe weather closed in.
Julian Bray cruise and travel journalist writes: A storm battering New Zealand has left some 700 cruise ship passengers stranded overnight in Canterbury, as the Princess Cruises' Sea Princess swung on its anchor riding out a storm in Akaroa Bay. The storm uprooted trees, caused power cuts as it as it swept across the country. The ship had dropped anchor and passengers transferred safely ashore by a shuttle tender service from its four 60+ passenger tenders. In order to complete the operation, specially trained crew, open a lower hull mounted access port, lowering down a landing platform, just a few feet above the normal waterline. In normal conditions the expert crew would assist the passengers (and in some cases wheelchair users as well) but if the weather is rough, then normally the port of call would be dropped from the schedule. In this case the 700 had already been safely taken ashore, but the weather suddenly blew up stranding the guests.
The European and American passengers from the Sea Princess cruise ship initially took shelter in the Akaroa Area School gymnasium, as the rough conditions have made it unsafe for them to return to the ship A spokesman for the Maison de la Mer Hotel, said he had been contacted by the cruise company to see if they could block book the hotel
Local reports suggest that by 10am the weather was 'looking pretty nasty', with trees blocking roads and power lines down.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism spokesperson claimed the situation was being handled well, and that the Akaroa community had all rallied together to accommodate the passengers in both hotel and private accommodation.
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