THE Sun Princess cruise ship sent a rescue crew to what was believed to be a stricken yacht in the middle of the Tasman Sea this afternoon.
The ship, with more than 2000 passengers aboard including many from the Sunshine Coast, had to stop, turn around and dispatch the Far Rescue Crew to the dismasted yacht Scotch Bonnet just after 12.30pm.
With many of the passengers watching from vantage points all over the ship, the FRC crewmen established that no-one was inboard and secured the vessel away from the ship. Captain Graham Goodway, who kept passengers and crew informed during the whole operation, which took just over 30 minutes, said Scotch Bonnet had been listed as on a passage from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand's North Island to Sydney.
Captain Goodway said that after talking with the Rescue Co-ordination Centre on the mainland, he had been given permission to continue the voyage to Brisbane.
Passengers' first inkling something may be wrong was just after noon when a call was made from the bridge for accident boat crews to muster.
The Sun Princess is on day 12 of a 14-day return cruise from Brisbane to the South and North Islands of New Zealand and had only about 625 nautical miles to go on its voyage when the incident occurred this afternoon.