February 6, 2023


‘Rogue wave’ hits cruise ship in Antarctica, killing 1 and injuring 4

The cruise line said a passenger on an Antarctic cruise died and four others were injured after their Vikings ship was hit by a “rogue wave”.

Viking said the incident occurred on Tuesday around 10:40 p.m. local time while the Viking Polaris was sailing toward Ushuaia, Argentina.

One of the guests died after the accident, Viking said, but did not disclose further details about the cause of death. The company said the victim’s family had been notified. The identity or nationality of the passenger was not disclosed.

Viking said four other guests sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the incident and were treated by the ship’s doctor and medical staff.

Viking said in a statement Thursday. “Our focus remains on the safety and well-being of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange the return trip.”

Damaged windows can be seen on Viking Polaris after it was hit by a rogue wave.

Courtesy Beverly Sparker

Viking said the ship sustained “limited damage” from the rogue wave and arrived in Ushuaia on Wednesday “without further incident.” Pictures taken of the anchored ship showed many damaged windows.

Passengers on the ship described the volatile conditions that led to the accident.

Beverly Spaker of California told ABC News that a “massive smash” of the cabin window of her and her husband’s home caused her window frame to crack.

“Obviously something big has happened,” she said. “A lot of water flowed.”

“Fortunately, our windows held,” she added, though she said other rooms on her side of the ship had been “washed out.”

Photo: Damaged windows can be seen on Viking Polaris after it was hit by an evil wave.

Damaged windows can be seen on Viking Polaris after it was hit by a rogue wave.

Courtesy Beverly Sparker

Spaker’s cousin, Susie Gooding, of North Carolina, told ABC News that at the time, the ship was passing through the Drake Passage, “famous for having turbulent seas.”

Gooding said that although the conditions outside looked “terrible”, the inside was “like a normal cruise ship” before the accident. She said she felt a “sudden shudder” that caused the lockers to open.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “At the time it happened, we personally wondered if we knew we weren’t near any icebergs, but it’s like, Have we hit an iceberg? It was very surprising.”

Spaker said she and other passengers were “shocked” afterward.

“No matter which side of the boat you’re on, it felt all over the ship that clearly something bad had happened,” she said. “So everyone was dumbfounded.”

The ship docked while passengers awaited more travel plans from the Vikings, according to Gooding, who said two other ships in their bay in Ushuaia had also been damaged, possibly by rogue waves.

The cruise line said the Viking Polaris’ next departure to the South Pole, scheduled for December 5, was canceled “after careful consideration”.

A rogue wave or severe storm is “more than twice the size of the surrounding waves” and is “extremely unpredictable,” according to National Ocean Service.

Ushuaia, located in the southernmost part of South America, is a common starting point for cruises to Antarctica.