Tragedy on Antarctica expedition voyage: One person dies aboard Viking Polaris

Dec 02, 2022

One person died and four were injured when a massive freak wave crashed into the expedition cruise ship Viking Polaris, during a storm as it sailed off the southernmost tip of South America. The Viking Polaris was sailing Tuesday towards Ushuaia, Argentina, the home port for expedition ships to Antarctica, when there was “a rogue wave incident,” Viking said in a statement. The tragic event took place while the vessel was crossing the Drake Passage, when a massive wall of water hit the ship on the port side damaging several cabin windows on deck 2. Many cabins were flooded and destroyed, as the water seeped through to rooms on lower decks, a passenger sailing on the ship said.

The Norwegian Safety Investigation Authority NSIA, the government agency responsible for investigating transport-related accidents, said it will investigate the accident on board the Viking Polaris. 

From the video bellow posted by Sharjah24, you can see the damage on the glass panels as the ship returned to Ushuaia after the tragic event.

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In a statement, Viking said the incident took place on November 29 at 22:40 local time when a rogue wave hit the Viking Polaris.

“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident. We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies. We will continue to offer our full support to the family in the hours and days ahead.

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

We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities.

Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel. At this time, we expect the next scheduled to departure to operate as planned; we will notify guests and their travel advisors should any modifications be required."

The Viking Polaris sustained limited damage during the incident and arrived in Ushuaia on November 30 without further incidents.

Coy Smith, a passenger sailing aboard the ship, shared on Facebook the following public post:

“Last night as we were still crossing Drakes Passage the winds and swells got worse. About 11:30 last night, our ship was hit by a 40-foot rouge wave. It blew out the huge windows of guest rooms

Alarms, code calls to the crew for several hours of the night.

Nothing impacted us and we are fine. However, with some major damage to the ship, there is no way to do the alternate plans that were made. 

So, they were forced to cancel everything and they are in the process of finding all of us earlier flights home.”

Viking Polaris was forced to cancel the current voyage after another incident on one of the expedition Zodiacs took place prior to the rouge wave accident. The Zodiac incident resulted in a guest sustaining a broken leg and was in need of urgent medical attention on land.