One person was killed and four were injured when a huge freak wave crashed into the expedition cruise ship Viking Polaris during a storm as it sailed off the southernmost tip of South America. On Tuesday, the Viking Polaris was sailing toward Ushuaia, Argentina, the home port for Antarctic expedition ships, when a “rogue wave incident” occurred, Viking said in a statement. The tragic event occurred while the ship was crossing the Drake Passage when a massive wall of water hit the ship on the port side and damaged several cabin windows on deck 2. Many cabins were flooded and destroyed, as water entered the rooms on the lower side decks, said a passenger who sailed on the ship.
Norway’s safety agency NSIA, the government agency responsible for investigating traffic accidents, said it will investigate the accident on board the Viking Polaris.
In a statement, Viking said the incident occurred on November 29 at 22:40 local time when a rogue wave hit the Viking Polaris.
“It is with great sadness that we have confirmed that the guest passed away after the incident. We have notified the guest’s family and expressed our deepest condolences. We will continue to provide full support to the family in the coming hours and days.
Four other guests suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the incident and were treated by the ship’s doctor and medical staff.
We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will provide support to the authorities.
Our focus remains on the safety and well-being of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel. At this time we expect the next scheduled departure to operate as planned; We will notify guests and their travel advisors if any changes are required.”
Viking Polaris sustained limited damage during the incident and arrived in Ushuaia on 30 November without further incident.
Coy Smith, a passenger on the ship, shared the following public post on Facebook:
“Last night while we were still crossing Drakes Pass, the winds and gusts got worse. Around 11:30 last night, our boat hit a 40-meter wave. It blew out the huge windows of the guest rooms
Alarms and code call to the crew several hours a night.
Nothing affected us and we are fine. However, with extensive damage to the ship, there is no way to carry out the alternative plans that have been made.
So they were forced to cancel everything and they are in the process of looking for all of our earlier flights home.
Viking Polaris was forced to cancel the current voyage after another incident on one of the expeditionary Zodiacs occurred prior to the red wave accident. The Zodiac incident resulted in the guest suffering a broken leg and requiring emergency medical attention on land.