Almost 500 passengers and crew on board Viking Sky were evacuated after the ship suffered propulsion problems in bad weather off the coast of Norway.
A number people have been confirmed as injured as helicopters were deployed to rescue passengers from the ship in high seas as part of an ongoing operation.
The vessel had been sailing to Stavanger, Norway, when it sent a distress signal as it was drifting towards land, according to Norway’s sea rescue service.
Volunteers from the Red Cross are in place to look after evacuees from cruise ship #VikingSky, off the coast of Norway. All Search and Rescue Teams have been mobilized in the entire region #Hustadvika @Hjelpekorps #RødeKorspic.twitter.com/CxNkkCX8W6
— Norges Røde Kors (@rodekorsnorge) March 23, 2019
Several vessels and helicopters were sent to the area where the ship was located in an effort to take passengers to safety, the rescue service added.
Even though the ship was able to start one engine, it dropped anchor around 2km from land and is no longer adrift.
Viking Cruises said: “We can confirm that on 23 March 2019 at 2pm (Norwegian time) the vessel Viking Sky, a 47,800 tonne ship travelling from Tromsø to Stavanger carrying 915 guests and 458 crew, experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway near Molde.
— Ryan Flynn (@RyanDFlynn11) March 23, 2019
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and all operational procedures were followed in line with international regulations. In addition Viking has dispatched an operational task force, including the company’s owner, to Molde.
“Our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew, and in close co-operation with the Norwegian Coast Guard, the captain decided to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter.
“The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site.
“The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution.
#VikingSky struggling in huge waves only one kilometer from shore. Evacuation has started , but there are 1300 ppl on onboard – and ship is rolling violently acc to observer close by. pic.twitter.com/fA3tWaEPks
— Tore (@potifar66) March 23, 2019
“A small number of non-life threatening injuries have been reported.
“Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests.
“We are in the process of updating the website with the latest information and activating special telephone numbers for passengers and their relatives.
“If you have questions or concerns about any guests onboard, please visit https://www.vikingcruises.com/oceans/my-trip/current-sailings/index.html
“If you have questions or concerns about any guests onboard please call this number for US/AU booked guests 1-888-889-8837, and for UK booked guests 07585 779 853 or 0208 780 7900.”
The ship’s next sailing, a Scandinavia and Kiel Canal itinerary which was scheduled to embark on Wednesday (March 27), has been cancelled.
Passengers and their travel agents have been contacted directly.
“We do not anticipate any additional cancellations at this time,” the line said.