Sydney storm strands Carnival Spirit cruise ship outside Sydney Harbour

carnival cruise storm sydney

As gale force winds continue to wreak havoc across Sydney, spare a thought for those aboard the cruise ship Carnival Spirit whose final leg into Sydney has all the nausea-inducing features of a carnival ride, sans the spirit.

The cruise ship has been rocked about in swells of up to nine metres outside Sydney Heads, after the NSW Port Authority closed the Sydney Harbour port this morning, deeming the conditions to be "far too dangerous".

"The port is closed to commercial vessels of any description. We simply don't want them in here at the moment," a spokesperson for the Port Authority said.

The passengers are now facing the prospect of being stuck off shore for another 48 hours, until a harbor pilot can safely board the Carnival Spirit and direct the vessel into the port.

"It's been one of the worst cruises I think you can be on," a passenger known only as Debbie told ABC radio.

Passengers are battling sea-sickness and shops on board the vessel have had their stock strewn across the floor, she said.

"It's not pleasant. It's been like this all night. I don't think many people on the ship got much sleep."

The ship was due to dock at Sydney Harbour on Tuesday morning after returning from a cruise to Fiji, before departing on another cruise later that afternoon.

The Carnival Cruise company confirmed, via a statement, that the ship "would be unable to sail from Sydney today as the port of Sydney has been closed due to extreme weather and ships are not permitted to enter Sydney Harbour."

"The ship is currently waiting off the Heads and will arrive as soon as the port reopens."

A spokesperson for the Port Authority said the situation was under constant monitoring but that the main concern was public safety.

"Our people are scanning weather radar and all kinds of tools at their disposal to see when we can reopen the port", a spokesperson said.
"We want to get back to normal as soon as we can, but really this is driven by the weather."

All vessels 30 metres or more must be accompanied by pilot, the spokesperson said, unless they are navy vessels.

"We arrange in advance to meet [the ship], the pilot boards the vessel and then ensures safe passage to the berth.

"Normally it's fine, but in these sorts of conditions it's extremely dangerous."


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