Passengers aboard a cruise out of New Zealand were witnesses to a rescue on the high seas, last night.
On Sunday evening passengers aboard the Pacific Explorer which departed Auckland on Friday were told that they would not be calling into Suva, Fiji as planned.
On Sunday evening, passengers were told that the 2000 berth ship would be making a diversion due west, to respond to a distress call from a small boat. As the closest ship, the Explorer was required to respond to the mayday.
The boat was intercepted at around 1.45am local time, having retraced the last known position.
Passenger Ali Gilchrist from Tauranga was aboard the Pacific Explorer.
“The captain advised us over the intercom at about 1900hrs that we had been asked to attend a distress call,” she told the Herald, explaining the ship appeared to have a “broken mast”.
One crew member was able to be rescued and is currently in the cruise ship’s hospital bay.
The yacht, which is without propulsion, remains under observation at a distance from the Explorer. There is at least one person still onboard.
“Rescue Coordination Centre NZ requested we monitor the yacht from a distance, as it is unsafe for us to get the second person off the yacht in their condition,” said Gilchrist.
“We are unsure if we are just going to continue to float around here until morning, or if they are going to attempt to do something with the broken yacht,” said Gilchrist.
Local weather is currently preventing the cruise ship from lowering a small-boat tender to reach the yacht.
A spokeswoman for P&O Australia confirmed the Pacific Explorer was “requested to assist a yacht in distress south of Fiji”.
“P&O received a call for assistance from the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre and arrived at 1am local time.
“Guests will be kept up to date with any necessary itinerary adjustments as Pacific Explorer renders assistance to those in distress.”
The cruise ship is currently on an 8-day voyage from Auckland, carrying nearly 2000 guests.
The ship will no longer be calling into Fiji this morning as planned.
A spokesperson for Maritime NZ told the Herald that the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre was supporting Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji with a distress call from a New Zealand flagged yacht South West of Nadi.
“One of the crew from the yacht is now on the Pacific Explorer and is receiving medical treatment,” said the Rescue Coordination Centre.
Two support vessels are expected to join the cruise ship later on Monday, set to arrive at midday and 4pm local time.
Other crew remain aboard the immobilised yacht.
“Support from the vessels scheduled to arrive later today is needed to assist the other people on-board the yacht. Due to conditions and the comparative size of the Pacific Explorer assisting the remaining people on-board the yacht isn’t possible.”
The ship which called into Auckland on Friday, was also the scene of high drama after a medical emergency in New Zealand waters on Thursday.
A passenger had to be winched by Northland Rescue Helicopter from the ship 120km off the coast of Northland last week, after becoming unwell.