King Cruiser Wreck
The King Cruiser wreck. Fancy diving on the King of shipwrecks in the Andaman Sea? 85 metres long and 25 metres wide. Big enough for you?
On the 4th May 1997, this huge converted car ferry was on a normal crossing, ferrying passengers to and from Ko Phi Phi. It was a calm and sunny day, with little wind when The King Cruiser managed to hit the only navigational hazard within hundreds of nautical miles: Anemone Reef. This pinnacle was charted and well-known by all captains in the area, so quite how this accident happened remains a mystery to this day. A large hole was torn in the hull and she sunk within two and a half hours. Fortunately all 561 passengers survived and were saved by nearby fishing and diving boats. The unproven theories abound to this day as to why the accident happened, the most popular being insurance fraud due to the operators not making enough money from the business and deciding to cash in their chips.
The King Cruiser is now a popular dive site and acts and sits close to Anemone Reef and Shark Point. The wreck settled in an upright position on the sandy bottom, the deepest part in 33 metres/108 feet of water. Originally the shallowest part of the wreck was only at 10 metres/30 feet but over the years most of the superstructure has collapsed making this a deep dive with the shallowest point at 18 metres/60 feet. At 85 metres/278 feet long and 25 metres/82 feet wide, this is a large vessel, so watch your air and NDLs as they can run short quickly if not carefully managed. The average depth & often brisk currents means the site is generally recommended for Advanced divers only. Descents and ascents are generally advised to be made on the mooring line which leads to the stern. The vessel sits on a south-north axis.
The wreck used to be suitable for penetration through the entire length of the car deck. However in mid 2003, the top deck collapsed into the stern, putting an end to this practice. All of the four decks have now collapsed completely, and in 2013 the wheelhouse was torn off in a storm and now hangs down the port side of the vessel. You can still swim through the vehicle entrance at the stern and the prow. The remains of the toilets at the make a humourous photo opportunity for many divers, and you can investigate the machinery used to open the car bay doors. There are open passageways which run inside the length of the vessel, which with careful planning and preparation could be accessed, but penetration is now generally not advised.
The King Cruiser is a great wreck diving environment, covered in soft purple and white coral and sea whips. An abundance of fish includes large schools of Two-Spot snapper and Big Eye Barracuda. Lionfish hang around everywhere and if you look carefully you will find Scorpionfish and Ornate Ghost Pipefish too.
- Distance from Phuket: 33 km (18 miles)
- Boat Trip average time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Depth: 18-33 metres (40-100 feet)
- Visibility: Fair to good
- Currents: Fair to brisk
Ideal for: Enriched Air Nitrox, Wreck Diver, Deep Diver, Multi-level Diver, Underwater Photography, Underwater Naturalist, AWARE Fish ID