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'Frightening' and 'surreal': Passengers describe 'terrifying' experience on Norway cruise ship

'Frightening' and 'surreal': Passengers describe 'terrifying' experience on Norway cruise ship
Copyright  NTB Scanpix/Svein Ove Ekornesvag via REUTERS
Copyright  NTB Scanpix/Svein Ove Ekornesvag via REUTERS
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros with AP, NBC
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'Frightening' and 'surreal': Passengers aboard the Norway cruise ship describe their terrifying experience.


Rescue services worked into the night trying to airlift passengers off a cruise ship which saw its engines malfunction during a storm off the western coast of Norway.

The crew sent a mayday signal on Saturday.  

Helicopters were able to get 479 of the 1,373 passengers back to safety before the Viking Sky was escorted back to the port of Molde on Sunday. The helicopters stopped taking people off the ship when it was ready for its trip back to shore with about 900 remaining passengers. 

“We understand 20 people suffered injuries as a result of this incident, and they are all receiving care at the relevant medical centres in Norway, with some already having been discharged,” said Viking Ocean Cruises, the company that owns and operates the ship.

A "frightening experience"

Passenger Alexus Sheppard told the Associated Press that people with injuries or disabilities were taken off the ship first. 

“It was frightening at first. And when the general alarm sounded it became VERY real,” she wrote.

Sheppard shared footage of furniture inside the ship swinging from side to side as waves hit the ship.

"A wave threw my wife nine metres across the room"

Rodney Horgen, who had travelled from Minnesota to visit his ancestral home, said his dream trip turned into something of a nightmare when he saw huge waves crash through glass doors and sweep his wife, Judie Lemieux, nine metres across the floor.

“When the windows and door flew open and the two metres of water swept people and tables 20 to 30 feet (nine metres), that was the breaker. I said to myself, ‘This is it,’” Horgen recalled. “I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave coming back."

Horgen said that he saw other passengers with cuts from shattered glass. The experienced fisherman said he had never seen such rough conditions. 

“I did not have a lot of hope. I knew how cold that water was and where we were and the waves and everything. You would not last very long. That was very, very frightening.”

"Surreal" experience

American passenger John Curry said he was having lunch when the ship began to shake.

"Window panes were broken and water came in. It was just chaos. The trip on the helicopter, I would rather forget, it was not fun," Curry told public broadcaster RNK.

“It was just chaos. The helicopter ride from the ship to shore I would rather not think about. It wasn’t nice,” Curry told the broadcaster.

Another passenger, Anne Decker, told NBC News that she and her friend were in a muster station — an area where passengers convene in case of an emergency — when a big wave hit and broke a window, which allowed water to come into the ship.


"I think it pushed open...and my friend and I and a lot of other people were completely underwater for a minute. I mean underwater and we thought that was it," Decker said, adding that the entire ordeal had been a terrifying experience.

Anne Decker

Decker's friend, Deborah Kellett, described the experience as "surreal". "It was like what you see in the movies and I honestly thought when we went under water, we were going to be dragged off the boat when the waves went through the window."

For British passenger, Derek Brown, the entire experience was a moment of extreme doubt. Brown told newspaper Romsdal Budstikke:

"I was a bit alarmed saying help, what's going to happen to the boat? What's going to happen to all of our possessions ... is the boat liable to capsize, sink or what? We didn't know so we were quite frightened."

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