The King Cruiser Wreck is Phuket’s First And Still Number One Wreck Dive
The King Cruiser Wreck’s unplanned underwater life began in May 1997. The adventurous captain of the King Cruiser car ferry strayed miles off course on his way to Phi Phi from Phuket. With an incredible feat of marine navigation he ‘found’ the only submerged reef for miles around. Unfortunately the intrepid captain’s wanderlust resulted in a large hole in the ferry and the inevitable consequences. So was created Phuket’s first wreck dive. Fortunately no lives were lost, all 500+ passengers were quickly rescued by the Thai navy and some passing fishing boats.
Hypotheses abound to how this ‘accident’ came to pass. These include insurance fraud due to the owners financial difficulties, alcohol and even that the local dive operators clubbed together and paid the captain to hit Anemone Reef and create the much needed wreck dive. The latter is highly unlikely, this would have to involve a)The company owners talking to each other and b)Putting their hands in their pockets, an unlikely combination to say the least. The captain was eventually found to be negligent by the courts. A bit harsh, I don’t think you should be penalised for having an adventurous spirit..
The King Cruiser Wreck Dive
The shallowest part of the wreck is at 18m and the deepest just over 30m so you definitely need to be at least Advanced Open Water certified or equivalent and nitrox is highly recommended. Strong current and limited visibility can sometimes make the dive quite tough. Usually it’s the first dive of the day to try and maximise your time on this 85m long and 25m wide wreck.
The wreck has deteriorated quite considerably over the last few years. We recently (September 2016) lost a large portion of the bow so penetration is not recommended. Don’t worry this doesn’t really affect your enjoyment of the dive. You do have to watch your buoyancy on this dive, sharp edges, scorpion fish and lionfish can make the dive a potential minefield. So just be extra careful and take it nice and slow and you should avert any issues.
The sheer variety and numbers of fish can be very distracting. The deep nature of the dive make it very easy for attention challenged divers to go into deco.
The wreck attracts an incredible amount of life. The schools of snapper and juvenile barracuda’s at the top of the wreck are so thick that you can lose sight of your buddy even if they’re only a couple of meters away. Stunning white and pink soft corals adorn the shallowest part of the wreck. The rest is covered in sponges, plate corals and so attracting many different species of nudibranchs some of which we only find on this site.
At the bottom of the wreck we can find grey bamboo sharks, large groups of lionfish and occasionally leopard sharks resting on the sand. As we slowly spiral up look out for honeycomb morays around the stern and resting hawksbill turtles on the top deck. We’ll finish the dive and complete the required safety stop on the mooring line at the stern. On the ascent you can see adult yellowtail barracuda, spanish mackerel and rainbow runners harassing the bait fish making a great end to the dive. If you’re really lucky them a cacophony of tank bangers can signal the arrival of a majestic whale shark…
Local Dive Thailand visit the wreck every Tuesday and Friday although it’s not always possible in low season. Get in touch now for more information and to book your dive.