Update: Grounded Expedition Cruise Passengers Disembark, Return to Ushuaia Aboard Other Vessels

February 3, 2011

(Update, February 3, 9:41 a.m. EST -- After an underwater inspection of the ship's outer hull, Polar Star Expeditions has decided to disembark passengers at King George Island in the South Shetland Islands before crossing the Drake Passage and returning to Ushuaia. This is a precautionary measure, and the cruise line is arranging passenger transport to Ushuaia aboard other vessels.)

(11:10 a.m. EST) -- An expedition cruise ship ran aground en route from Antarctica to Argentina yesterday, and although early reports from the Sydney Morning Herald indicated that rescue workers from the Argentine Army were evacuating passengers from Polar Star Expeditions' Polar Star, the cruise line affirms that no one has been evacuated.

"We would like to clarify the situation as it has come to our attention that there is some misinformation in the media. It is confirmed that while anchoring (ship moving about one knot) in the region of Detaille the ship did touch a rock causing a minor breach in the outer hull. All 80 passengers and 35 crew remain onboard. There are no injuries and no environmental damage," said Polar Star Expeditions spokeswoman, Mary Filbee.
According to Filbee, the ship -- which departed from Ushuaia last week -- resumed sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula last night, and will stop at the Arctowski Station where it will be inspected before its anticipated return to Ushuaia on Friday.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) released a statement yesterday saying there were 32 Americans and 14 British passengers among the 80 passengers onboard.

The ship was built in 1969, and was refurbished in 2001 and began sailing to Antarctica in 2001.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor, and Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer