King Cruiser Wreck diving in Phuket
Sunk (by accident, with no casualties) on May 4th 1997, the King Cruiser Ferry now provides the best recreational wreck dive from Phuket. Approximately 85m long and 25m wide, the King Cruiser sits in around 32m of water half way between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. Whatever this wreck may lack in historical value, it certainly makes up for in marine life!
This dive site should be for the experienced diver only, often with strong currents, very changeable visibility and potential hazards which increase regularly as this rusting wreck collapses. Apart from the giant barracudas and king mackerel that hang off the wreck amongst the huge schools of other fish, the very ‘up-side’ to the sometimes hard conditions is being able to peer into exposed nook and crannies, lighting up all the colorful soft corals with your torch. Crawling around the wreck you’ll commonly find beautiful nudibranchs, a variety of shrimp, lots of camouflaged scorpion fish, white-eye and fimbriated morays, large lion fish and in the darker depths sometimes huge groupers and solitary barracuda.
There is normally 1 (sometimes 2) mooring lines attached to either the stern or bow (approximately North and South, respectively), to assist your descent/ascent and safety-stop. Although you can have a reasonable dive on air (if 1st dive of the day), there’s a big gain to be had using enriched air (Nitrox 32% suggested) especially if this has to be the 2nd dive of the day due to avoiding the strongest currents. Not only should you get more bottom time with Nitrox but you should also find that, after a while, you’ve the wreck to yourselves as others (on air) have to ascend to shallower depths.
Although a great experience for doing your PADI Wreck Diving Specialty, it’s perhaps best to learn the basics on friendlier wrecks before completing your experience at the King Cruiser (and combine it with a Nitrox Specialty if you don’t have that already). Either way, for fun or for courses, on a good day the King Cruiser Wreck is a fabulous dive and even on a bad day there’s still lots to see!