The little camera I had with me does not do this magnificent wreck justice, but you can see how teeming with life this giant passenger ferry is!
Some say this was a sudden tragedy – on the 4th May 1997 the passenger ferry “King Cruiser” sank on it’s way to Phi Phi Island from Phuket. The dive industry celebrated for weeks- there was finally a proper wreck off the shore of Phuket. Some say that it was a payoff from the scuba godfathers that prompted the ferry’s captain to hit the very well known anemone reef. But there might be a more prosaic reason – the insurance on the ferry was about to run out right before the “accident”.
No one, including the 600 passengers, died in the disaster.
The ship sank in little over an hour after hitting the only pinnacle reef on the path from Phuket to Phi-Phi. The captain had been operating the same route for years prior to accident.
The King cruiser lies at a depth of about 30 meters of water, with the top of the wreck starting at about 14 meters and lots to explore at 20. The wreck lies upright, perfectly.
The tropically warm water and strong currents have accelerated decomposition, in 2003 the upper deck collapsed, deeming the wreck unsafe for penetration.
It could not have sunk at a better location for diving, with two nearby divesites, in the middle of a marine sanctuary.
It is covered with fish, anemones and soft coral. Hard coral is beginning to colonize it.
Travellie, Batfish, Snappers, Groupers, Lionfish, Pufferfish, Scorpionfish (watch what you touch!), Morays, Barracuda and myriads of other fish make it their home. A turtle is occasionally seen, as well as banded sea-snakes. A beautiful “artificial reef”, it is an amazing study in re-colonizing by life of any available space that occurs within nature.
King Cruiser Shipwreck Diving at Phuket
Japanese-built, 30-40 years old
Gross Tonnage: 3,000 tons
Length: 85 m
Engine capacity:10,000 Hp
Max.Speed: 22 knots
Passenger Capacity: 888 passengers