King Cruiser Wreck: Dive Site Information
The King Cruiser was used as a car & passenger ferry between Phi Phi Islands and Phuket. In May 1997 the ferry struck either Anemone Reef or Shark Point and sank between the two. The wreck is 85m long and sits on the bottom at 32m although most of the dive is normally conducted around 25m. The top of the wreck comes up to 15m so there is plenty to see at all depths. The wreck is home to large schools of fish and occasionally a turtle or leopard shark can be found resting on the wreck.
Parts of the wreck have collapsed and advanced penetration is discouraged without proper training and equipment. Other areas of the wreck include large cavernous areas easily penetrated by the average diver and full of sheltering marine life. As the wreck is sitting out in the open often there can be stronger currents and lower viability. Dive with an experienced guide to ensure you get the most out of the dive.
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 among 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 will commonly find beautiful nudibranchs, a variety of shrimp, lots of camouflaged scorpion fish, white-eye and fibrillated morays, large lionfish 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 is 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 have 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 is 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 do not 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 is still lots to see!
Wreck penetration dives are still available for qualified technical divers who are experienced penetration divers.
Racha Yai island, around 12km south of Phuket, generally offers easy diving with good conditions and is a popular destination for those taking SCUBA diving courses or for divers with family/friends who would like to snorkel on the same trip.
During the green season (usually May to October) most of the diving takes place around the handful of hard coral bays or rocky reefs that run the length of the eastern coastline