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The King Cruiser was a Japanese car ferry which sank en route to Koh Phi Phi when it struck anemone reef.

Name Dive Site:King Cruiser
Depth: 10-33m (32-108ft)
Visibility: 5-15m (16-49ft)
Accessibility: Boat
Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

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The King Cruiser was an old Japanese catamaran like car ferry which was used for sightseeing trips from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi and back. It was 85 meters long, 25 meters wide and about 30 meters high, originally built in Kobe, Japan. It was bought by a Thai company in the early nineties. When she struck Anemone Reef on May 4th, 1997 she was ferrying 561 passengers and mainly cargo to the Phi Phi islands. A large hole inside its hull made the ship sink in less than 2.5 hours, just enough time for nearby dive boats to save all passengers. Stories about insurance scams, drunk driving and the necessity of having a wreck dive near Phuket were easy rumours. One story tells us that it was the captain's daughter who was driving the boat when the accident happened. Supposedly the captain is still locked away bars somewhere in a local prison. We don't know which of these tales is true, but getting wrecked on that extremely calm day is highly suspicious.

Entering this upright wreck should not be done by untrained divers as you will hear the metal scraping and settling into its final position. At the front of the wreck you can easily find its hull, wheelhouse and upper decks. It used to have four decks with large passages and window holes. Parts of the upper deck have collapsed into the car deck and create a wide range of holes for creatures to live in. The rear decks have been twisted because of deterioration of the steel and the constant blows of the ocean. The wreck often endures strong currents, rough seas and should therefore only be dived by advanced divers.

It is nice to swim around this relatively young wreck spotting some groups of large fish. Big-eye trevallies and jacks are often seen sweeping down on their prey near the captains cabin. Near the propeller at thirty meters deep you can often find some sleeping bamboo sharks. Some lionfish and octopus are known to live under a set of toilet seats and pots near the stern. Further more you can see groups of stonefish, moray eels, black banded sea snakes and turtles. Its hull is covered with some shells, mussels and tiny pieces of soft and hard coral. It are the huge groups of large predators, its history and atmosphere that make this site special.

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