Norwegian Star cruise ship being towed into Melbourne
A CRUISE operator has apologised to passengers after their ship's engine broke down, stranding passengers at sea off the coast of Victoria.
The Norwegian Star is expected to be towed to Melbourne on Saturday after the ship lost engine power at Cape Liptrap, near Wilsons Promontory.
The ship - which can carry 2348 people - was travelling from Melbourne to Dunedin when the ship's propulsion system stopped working.
Passengers are reporting cruise ship crew and staff being "abused" by angry travellers.
BNCraceteam tweeted: "feel for the Crew onboard #NorwegianStar who continue to get abused by guests, fix the damn ship! horrendous return to Aus".
Operator Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) have extended their "deepest apologies" to passengers in a letter distributed on board the broken cruise ship.
The letter assured passengers were not at risk, but offered them cash to help them fly directly to Auckland.
"We hope that you will choose to remain onboard (sic) while the ship is docked and enjoy additional time exploring Melbourne and then continue onto on a revised itinerary once the repairs are complete," the letter read.
But for those fatigued by the delays and hiccups, passengers are being offered "up to $350 per person for a flight to Auckland and provide up to $300 per ticket for a change fee allowance if you wish to fly home immediately".
"We will also provide you with internet access and the ability to make a phone call as needed to contact your travel agent or airline to make new travel arrangements, should you wish to do so," it said.
The news comes after Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) said all passengers were safe and there was no danger to the ship.
"The ship has full power and all on-board services are fully operational," a spokeswoman said.
"All guest amenities remain open and available and the weather conditions are favourable.
"The ship is in no danger whatsoever and the comfort and safety of our guests and crew are unaffected by this situation."
All guests will be provided with a full refunded and a 50 per cent discount on a future cruise.
Australian Maritime and Safety Authority is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the ship's master.
Tug boats have been arranged to pull the 91,000 tonne ship to Melbourne, with the cruiseliner expected to arrive in Port Melbourne Saturday afternoon.
NCL said details on the ship's itinerary will be available when the ship arrives in Melbourne and the repair timeline assessed.
"All guests are welcome to stay on-board while the ship is docked and enjoy additional time exploring Melbourne and then continue onto Auckland on the revised itinerary once the repairs are complete," a spokeswoman said.
Last year the ship experienced problems with its Azipod propulsion system in Singapore.
NCL said the Auckland leg of the cruise will go ahead as planned on February 18.
"Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely extends its deepest apologies to guests for the inconveniences that they have encountered," she said.
"We thank our guests for their understanding and patience in this very unusual and unprecedented situation,"
"While very rare, mechanical equipment malfunctions do occur and we assure our guests that our dedicated team on board is working tirelessly to deliver the absolute very best guest experience possible during this adjusted cruise."
In a statement, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the ship's generators were still working.
"There is still power to bow thrusters and passenger facilities," the statement read.
"This means the master has limited ability to manoeuvre the ship, but will need assistance from tugs to come into port."