Harbour master John Jessie said the captain had also been concerned about the possibility of higher swells later in the afternoon.
He said the decision to cancel the visit ashore had been made for the safety of the luxury vessel, its crew and the safe return of passengers on to the Holland America Line ship.
The Maasdam stopped off the Port of Avatiu at around 7.30am and when CINews called at the port an hour later, tour buses were departing and the stallholders who usually sell clothing and souvenirs to cruise ship visitors were packing up.
Passengers lined the decks of the ship, gazing back to shore but there was little sign of activity around the landing platform at the side of the ship. Around 20 minutes later a tender departed from the platform and after reaching the wharf, disembarked biosecurity officers and other officials, as well as crew members.
A local security officer warned a CINews photographer to move away, even though he was nowhere near the immigration security barrier, which was being dismantled.
Other crew members who had been waiting at the wharf, including some with suitcases, later travelled back to the ship on the tender.
The Maasdam was on its third visit to Rarotonga since October. Last Wednesday it was the scene of tragedy as a 70-year-old woman, believed to be a US citizen, died while disembarking from a tender on to the landing platform.
The event appeared to have been hushed up, but after unconfirmed report of the incident was posted on a website on Monday, Police and Transport ministry officials confirmed an investigation was underway into the death and would be taken up by another investigator once the ship reached New Zealand. Police said the Coroner was currently conducting an inquest and was awaiting a pathologist’s report from New Zealand.
Requests from CINews for information from the Holland America Line met with no response, but were more forthcoming with Newsweek, who had a story on their website yesterday.
The story said the Holland America Line had said in a statement that the woman had fallen into the sea from a tender platform and had passed away at 1.30 pm Cook Islands time, after she was pulled back on board.
The woman had been still conscious when she was pulled from the water, the statement added.
“She then lost consciousness on the platform and could not be revived by medical staff at the scene,” the cruise company said.
“Authorities were notified and company care team counsellors assisted her family and other guests during this difficult time,” the statement read.
“We are saddened by this event, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
The Masdaam was 10 days into a two-week cruise of French Polynesia. A spokesperson for Holland America told Newsweek the reason for the woman’s fall was currently unknown.