The King Cruiser was an 85-metre catamaran car ferry that used to sail between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. In May 1997, in what can only be explained as a lapse in concentration from the Captain and crew, the ferry steamed straight into the submerged pinnacle of Anemone Reef. Sea conditions were perfect and Anemone Reef was a charted and known navigation hazard, that should have been given a wide berth. After hitting the reef and damaging the hull, the boat sunk in about 35 minutes about a kilometre away from the point of impact. Thankfully, no lives were lost.
The King Cruiser sits in an upright position in about 32 metres of water, almost in-between the dive sites of Shark Point Phuket and Anemone Reef. The sunken vessel has attracted a massive amount of marine life. Penetration of the wreck is still possible in some areas, although there was a major collapse back in 2003, which saw the usual route through the car deck at 24 metres blocked off when the twisted metal of the decks above imploded and made the route almost impassable. These days the wreck is considered very unstable so divers should be very careful and only attempt penetration under stringent safety conditions, and under the supervision of a suitably qualified instructor.
It is a relatively large wreck to explore in a single dive, and due to the average depth, and strong currents, divers are reminded to keep an eye on their air gauges and remember to leave enough air in reserve for a safety stop at 5 metres during their ascent to the surface. Descend and ascend using one of the mooring lines situated on the bow and stern of the wreck. Currents can be strong enough to blow you away from the wreck on your descent unless you use the line. The boat sits in 32 metres on water. At the bow, if you go deep enough to about 30 metres you can expect the huge propellers. Occasionally a resting Nurse Shark can be found in this area.
The rest of the wreck is easily explored, especially with an experienced dive guide. I'm sure, the largest Lionfish in the Andaman Sea make the King Cruiser their home. They hang motionless in space at the bow of the wreck waiting patiently for small fry to stray too close before snapping them up faster than a blink of an eye. Be wary of Scorpionfish at this dive site. The wreck is literally covered with them, all cunningly camouflaged against the growth-covered ship. Scorpionfish are close relatives of the Stonefish, the most venomous fish in the sea, and although not quite as poisonous, will still inflict a serious injury to any diver who accidentally puts his/her hand on one. If you need to steady yourself or hold on in the current to rest, make certain the railing or whatever you intent to hold onto, doesn't have a Scorpionfish resting on it.
Other visitors here include, Turtles, Sea Snakes, the occasional 2 metre Great Barracuda, Giant Trevally, Tuna, Jacks, Shoals of Snappers, Morays, a host of Nudis, and more and more sighting of Whalesharks circling and cruising overhead. Conditions at this site can vary wildly from day to day, or even from hour to hour. On a good day it's a fantastic dive, when the water is clear and blue, and the currents are nearly non-existent. On the other hand, there are days when the vis is down to 5 metres or even less, with ripping currents. It can be a demanding dive and is only recommended for experienced divers, or divers doing their PADI Advanced Course with an instructor.