Stricken cruise liner that Graeme Smith's parents were on finally reaches port

2019-03-24 19:04
The Viking Sky cruise ship is currently stranded near the west coast of Norway, at Hustadvika near Romsdal. (Getty Images)

The Viking Sky cruise ship is currently stranded near the west coast of Norway, at Hustadvika near Romsdal. (Getty Images)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A cruise liner that  ran into trouble in stormy seas off Norway reached port under its own steam on Sunday after hundreds of passengers, including cricketer Graeme Smith's parents were winched to safety by helicopter in a spectacular rescue operation.

Escorted by tugboats, the Viking Sky arrived in the port of Molde at around 15:15 GMT, television images showed. Nearly a third of its 1 373 passengers and crew had already been airlifted off the ship.

The cruise liner lost power and started drifting on Saturday afternoon two kilometres off a stretch of Norwegian coastline notorious for shipwrecks.

The captain sent out a Mayday prompting authorities to launch the airlift in difficult conditions rather than run the risk of leaving people on board.

Some 460 of the 1 373 people on the ship had been taken off by five helicopters before the airlift was halted.

Police said 17 people had been taken to hospital. One person more than 90 years old and two 70-year-olds suffered serious fractures.

With three of four engines restarted Sunday, two tugs towed the vessel away from dangerous reefs before it set sail for Molde, 500 kilometresnorthwest of Oslo, under its own power.

Dramatic footage of the passengers' ordeal showed furniture and plants sliding around the lurching vessel as parts of the ceiling came down.

Dozens of passengers wearing life jackets were seen seated waiting to get off the ship.

"I have never seen anything so frightening," said Janet Jacob, who was rescued.

"I started to pray. I prayed for the safety of everyone on board," she told the NRK television channel.

"The helicopter trip was terrifying. The winds were like a tornado," she added.

"We were sitting down for breakfast when things started to shake... It was just chaos," said another passenger, American John Curry, as quoted in Norwegian by local media.

Passenger Rodney Horgan said he had been reminded of the Titanic.

"The best word, I guess, is surreal," he said.

"Sea water six-seven feet (about two metres) high just came rushing in, hit the tables, chairs, broken glass and 20-30 people just... went right in front of me.

"I was standing, my wife was sitting in front of me and all of a sudden, she was gone. And I thought this was the end," Horgan said.

But it all ended well for Ryan Flynn. "Here's my 83-year-old dad being airlifted from the #vikingsky," he said.

"We are all off the ship safely!"

Notorious seas

The ship was sailing south from Tromso to Stavanger when engine trouble struck mid-afternoon on Saturday in an area off More og Romsdal that has claimed many vessels.

"It is dangerous to encounter engine problems in these waters, which hide numerous reefs," said Tor Andre Franck, the head of police operations.

A reception centre was set up in a gym on shore for the evacuees, many of whom were elderly and from the United States and Britain.

The area where the ship got into problems, known as Hustadvika, is notoriously difficult to navigate.

The shallow, 10 nautical mile section of coastline is dotted with small islands and reefs.

"Hustadvika is one of the most notorious maritime areas that we have," Odd Roar Lange, a journalist specialising in tourism, told NRK.

In their time, the Vikings hesitated to venture into the Hustadvika, preferring instead to transport their boats by land from one fjord to another.

Operated by the Norwegian firm Viking Ocean Cruises, the Viking Sky was launched in 2017 with a capacity of 930 passengers plus crew.

In addition to US and British nationals, there were also passengers from 14 other countries on board, Fjeld said.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.