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WHAT TO EXPECT ON A KING CRUISER WRECK LIVEABOARD
Liveaboards to the King Cruiser Wreck in Thailand will usually depart from Phuket and head towards the Phi Phi Islands, including this dive site on their itinerary.
On the 4th of May 1997 the car ferry 'King Cruiser' hit a group of submerged rocky pinnacles on a routine run between Phuket and the Phi-Phi Islands at Anemone Reef. Built in Japan 30 years ago, this catamaran has four decks, at 85m long and 25 m wide. With 561 passengers on board, it sank within a couple of hours. Luckily there was no loss of life as rescue came quickly. The wreck, which sits upright on a sandy bottom in around 33m of water has created an interesting artificial reef and attracts many divers to the area, who dive nearby Anemone Reef. It is surprising how much marine life surrounds the wreck, now encrusted with a variety of corals. The wreck remains relatively intact, with the upper deck having collapsed a bit and offers excellent multi-level diving. Due to its exposed location, this site often faces strong currents and bearing in mind its’ depth, is more suitable for the advanced diver.
WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Whilst on a King Cruiser Wreck liveaboard dive it is best to start at the maximum depth of 33m and slowly make your ascent towards the upper deck at 12m. The propeller are at the deepest point and rest at about 32m. At 25 meters, you can explore the engine room and car decks. You’ll be able to see large schools of yellow snapper that tend to hover around the entrance to the car decks. As mentioned, the ferry has four decks and the mooring line drops down to the passenger section at 18 meters where you can find the bar, and lots of tables and chairs. Over time, parts of the wreck have been degraded and leave the safety of entrance to this area and all others in question. Even for the experienced diver, it is best to seek the advice of your liveaboard Divemaster. At 12 meters lies the captain's cabin where you can often see circling schools of bigeye trevally near the wheel house. On your ascent to the surface you start your safety stop around the smokestacks which sit at about 6-7 meters.
Schools of Barracudas and curious turtles are often seen patrolling the wreck, with the usual large grouper and growing population of lionfish lurking around. Undoubtedly, you will see many scorpionfish everywhere hiding amidst the barnacles and rusting steel of the wreck. If luck is on your side, Leopard sharks on the sandy bottom, bamboo sharks, and even the rare Whale shark have been seen around the wreck.
Conditions can vary here and the visibility can vary. With year round diving, it can get quite crowded during the high season.
Liveaboard.com offers good itineraries that cover the best of Thailand’s west coast. The best way to get to King Cruiser is on a Thailand liveaboard trip from Phuket departing from Chalong Pier in Phuket.