Cruise ship towed to Norway port after over 470 airlifted to safety

Posted March 26, 2019

A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway's western coast on Saturday, then began evacuating its 1,300 passengers and crew amid stormy seas and heavy winds in a high-risk helicopter rescue operation.

For several hours, Norwegian rescue helicopters air-lifted more than half of the roughly 900 passengers off the stricken vessel, including Susan and Allan Dullberg, to safety.

Wild photos and videos show the Viking Sky cruise ship tilting almost 45 degrees in choppy waters, sending passengers and furniture sliding across rooms and tiles falling from the ceiling.

"Our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew, and in close cooperation with the Norwegian Coast Guard, the captain chose to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter", it said.

The cruise ship had been en route from Tromso to Stavanger. It has a capacity of 930 according to the company website. He couldn't immediately say how long the cruise ship would remain in Molde.

Latest report has indicated that the ship has restarted and is now moving at a slow pace.

The airlift of passengers, many of them elderly, from the Viking Cruises ship by helicopter was halted yesterday morning as two tugboats started steering the vessel towards the nearest port. Most of those travelling are said to be British or United States citizens.

Norwegian Cruise Ship Issues Mayday, Evacuates Passengers Amid Rough Seas
'It was just chaos': Dramatic video shows passengers on cruise ship being tossed by waves

Among those rescued 20 people suffered injuries. Most of the passengers are said to be British or U.S. citizens, many of them elderly.

Hospital officials have said one person is in critical condition and eight others are still hospitalised after the Viking Sky had engine problems off the Norwegian coast and issued a mayday warning on Saturday afternoon.

Viking Ocean Cruises said Monday it had begun "an internal establish a complete and thorough understanding of what happened", and welcome the official investigations which they "will fully support".

Olav Magne Stromsholm, who captains tourist vessels in the area, told the VG newspaper the Viking Sky had been "near disaster", calling the waters there a "shipyard cemetery".

The Viking Sky was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

Passengers on a cruise off the coast of Norway are being evacuated by helicopter.