1,300 passengers and crew members were in need of rescue yesterday afternoon amid terrible weather conditions
Out of all the cruise ship horror stories that have made headlines in recent years, this one defnitely takes the cake. Rescue helicopters battled severe winds yesterday in an attempt to airlift hundreds of stranded passengers aboard a Viking Cruise ship after an engine failure in rough seas.
The ship issued a distress call off the coast of Norway, with more than 1,300 people on board. The initial mayday was received by the agency at 2 p.m. Saturday local time. The cruise ship was approximately 2 kilometers from shore and had only one engine working and one anchor holding.
Since the ship couldn’t go anywhere, it was left anchored amid extremely rough, choppy waves. Though the conditions outside were truly challenging, passengers shared videos on social media to show that the conditions inside weren’t much better.
Furniture (including a piano) and ceiling boards were thrashing around, some of it hitting passengers.
Passengers were given life vests and gathered in what appears to be the ship’s auditorium, waiting rescue.
Four helicopters were involved in the operations to remove passengers. “Our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew, and in close cooperation with the Norwegian Coast Guard, the captain decided to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter,” a Viking Cruise spokesman said in a statement.
Could you imagine? It’s impossible to say for sure what the more terrifying option is — being rescued via helicopter like this or remaining stranded on a vomit-inducing ship for an indeterminable amount of time. Then again, being dangled through the air to safety is likely the more ideal circumstance when you see this video someone on shore took of the ship rolling through the rough water.
One can only hope the ship was well-stocked in Dramamine. WHEW. Norwegian media reported gusts up to 43 mph and waves over 26 feet.
Carolyn Savikas, an American passenger from Pennsylvania, described the terror to Norway’s VG newspaper, saying she heard a “terrible crash” as the ship rocked. She said water was rushing in and things were getting smashed all over the place.
“We were in the restaurant when a really huge wave came and shattered a door and flooded the entire restaurant,” she said. “All I saw were bones, arms, water and tables. It was like the Titanic – just like the pictures you have seen from the Titanic.”
After helicopter rescues on Saturday, 436 guests and 458 crew members remained on board.
After hundreds were airlifted, the cruise ship regained power and was able to make it to shore in Molde, Norway.
Viking Cruises announced Sunday the ship had regained power and was continuing on to Molde, Norway. Viking said 436 guests and 458 crew remained on board as it returned to port. Another 479 passengers who were airlifted by helicopter will be flying home, the cruise company said.
If you’re wondering why lifeboats or other vessels weren’t used in a rescue attempt (don’t pretend you’re not thinking about the Carpathia coming to rescue the remaining Titanic passengers — it’s where Rose discovered she had The Necklace after all), it’s because the conditions were so terrible, it wasn’t safe. This is why helicopters were used to shuttle the passengers to shore.
Danny and Judith Bates were among the passengers rescued. “Very frightening. We went up on a helicopter with a sling, the two of us together and it was quite scary,” Danny Bates said.
“Today was some of the worst (conditions) I have been involved with, but now it looks like it’s going well and in the end we have been lucky,” company Chairman Torstein Hagen told Norway’s NRK television.