October 30, 2011 Updated October 30, 2011
After receiving the distress call from the U.S. Coast Guard, Gem's captain, Hakan Svedung, immediately diverted the ship to rescue the passengers of the sailboat. Once the cruise ship reached Sanctuary, it encountered extreme weather conditions -- there were large swells and winds of up to 40 knots.
"This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances,” said Captain Svedung. "I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress."
By mid-afternoon, the five Canadian rescuees were safely aboard Norwegian Gem, which arrived back in New York (from a seven-night Bermuda cruise) at around 8:30 a.m. this morning, just a half hour behind schedule.
--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Editorial Assistant