NCV Ship Runs Aground in Antarctica

January 31, 2007

(10:30 a.m.) -- In what is less than an ideal situation anywhere, Norwegian Coastal Voyage's Nordkapp ran aground in the wild waters of Antarctica -- a region so remote that gaining the help of a tow, so to speak, could prove challenging.

Thankfully, all has ended well. The 11,386-ton, 325-passenger Nordkapp, which ran aground yesterday near Deception Island, one of the South Shetland Islands, spent the night anchored near land. No injuries were reported and passengers and crew were not in danger, according to a company statement.

The ship had nearly completed its cruise (a 19-day expedition from Santiago to Argentina's Ushuaia, with a flight to Buenos Aires) and was on its way back when it struck submerged rocks. Nordkapp was able to clear the rocks under its own power and has not been found to be leaking oil or other fluids. There is some damage to the outer hull but it's minor. The ship is in no danger of sinking or listing.

However, its 294 passengers, 165 of which are from the U.S. and Canada, are being taken off the ship as a precaution. Actually, Nordkapp's pretty lucky in that regard because sister ship Nordnorge was sailing in the general vicinity. Passengers will be taken aboard via tender transfers.

There are already passengers onboard Nordnorge, which sails the same region this time of year, but there's plenty of room onboard for the new folks because these ships aren't allowed to sail full. The line restricts the capacity of the 490-berth ships to 325 -- and based on the current passenger load, they were able to accommodate those stranded aboard Nordkapp.

After taking on Nordkapp's passengers, Nordnorge will set sail on the 40-hour journey to Ushuaia; it is scheduled to arrive there on Friday morning -- the same time Nordkapp was expected, which means Nordkapp's passengers' flights home and post-cruise plans should not be interrupted.

Also en route to the scene is a British navy vessel with divers onboard who will assist with inspecting Nordkapp's damage and escort the ship to Ushuaia.

Editor's Update (5 p.m.): According to a statement posted on NCV's Norwegian Web site, the remaining three Antarctic sailings of Nordkapp will be canceled. "As the consequence of the damages on MS Nordkapp, it is assumed that the last three sailings planned for this season in Antarctica will be cancelled. Passengers and travel agents affected by this will be contacted immediately or as soon as possible." We'll keep you posted.

--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor

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