Antarctica Cruise Turns to Nightmare

Cruise expedition battered by 10-metre waves, bridge window smashed.

The cruise expedition vessel Clelia II is now operating at normal speed during its northbound crossing of the Drake Passage, following heavy sea conditions that resulted in a broken bridge window and electrical, communication and engine malfunctions. The battered Antarctic cruise ship is returning to port in Ushuaia, Argentina, after battling 10-metre waves near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Clelia II’s captain said that the weather had been the worst he had ever seen in 159 trips to the Antarctic. One of the 77 crew suffered minor injuries as the force of the waves tipped the ship repeatedly from bow to stern, but none of the 88 passengers, all of whom were from the United States, were reported injured. After losing communication, the Clelia II was found when another passenger vessel, the National Geographic Explorer operated by Lindblad Expeditions, passed it and failed to make contact, sending out a distress signal on its behalf.

The Chilean navy then sent a vessel to escort the ship to port, initially at a speed of just four knots (8 km/h). Clelia II is operated by the New York-based Travel Dynamics International and owned by Helios Shipping of Piraeus, Greece. Reports indicate that while the ship was encountering rough weather a huge wave hit the ship, breaking the starboard bridge window and dousing some electrical circuitry. This caused a temporary loss of communications and affected engine performance.

The ship has reported no damage to the hull or discharge of oil or any other liquids from the ship. It is expected to reach port tomorrow.

ITN / International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators

[Pictured: Clelia II in calmer waters]