A passenger who was onboard a Norwegian cruise ship when it experienced a loss of engine power triggering an emergency response on Saturday has spoken out about the terrifying ordeal.
The Viking Sky vessel, which was travelling from Tromsø to Stavanger in Norway, was carrying 915 guests and 458 crew members when it hit rough seas at around 2pm Norwegian time (midnight AEDT). Video shared to social media by passengers shows furniture sliding across floors, pieces of the ceiling falling off and passengers clinging to each other as they tried to remain upright.
Speaking to Today on Monday morning, Alexus Sheppard from north California, who is still onboard the stricken vessel, detailed the nightmarish voyage and the injuries she sustained throughout the ordeal.
“It was indeed a very frightening experience. The ship was rolling back and forth more than any cruise ship I’ve ever been on,” she said. “Furniture was sliding back and forth, to one side to another. People were getting knocked down by the furniture and the ceiling fell down on some people. It was quite the scary situation for sure.”
Sheppard said there were cuts to the head, arms and the legs.
She recalled: “After lunch I went up to the observation lounge and as I was watching the waves they seemed to get bigger and bigger and that’s when the ship started to roll from left to right. At first it was kinda [sic] funny because the tables would move a little bit.”
However, Sheppard said she knew something was very wrong when the guests were all summoned to the ship’s muster station.
“Very shortly after that they sounded the emergency call and that was when the captain [said] ‘this is not a drill, this is an emergency’. So we went down the muster station and then they announced not only have we gathered there to start putting on our life jackets but the captain had also declared a mayday. Being a sailor myself, anytime a captain declares a mayday it’s a really big deal and that was very, very frightening.”
Sheppard was one of the passengers who shared a video to social media of the ship as it lurched across the ocean. The footage shows passengers gathered in a lounge area as furniture slides across the room and collides with guests before part of the ceiling breaks off, with debris landing on the heads of guests seated directly below.
An official statement from Viking Cruises, which operates the ship, confirmed to Starts at 60 the incident occurred when the ship’s engines failed, with the captain issuing a mayday call and working with the coast guard to arrange the safe evacuation of everyone on board.
The cruise ship reached port late Sunday afternoon, after hundreds of passengers were airlifted to safety, leaving the remaining holiday-goers stranded.
Many other guests took to social media to document the proceedings as they waited to be evacuated from the ship, with one person writing: “Still on board the #VikingSky – don’t have a lot of power in my phone but the passengers are doing well. We have been given food and water and the crew still is being amazing.”
Other passengers shared videos from the ship, one of which showed water gushing onto the deck, as the guest revealed that a door had been blown off after the ship was bashed by a “massive wave”.