Terror at Sea: Passengers of Troubled Norway Cruise Recount Their Ordeal

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
March 25, 2019 Updated: March 25, 2019

Passengers who were aboard the stricken Norwegian cruise ship have described their harrowing ordeal as the vessel was rocked by violent waves and howling winds on March 24.

Wind speeds of up to 50 mph left the 1,373 passengers aboard the 12-day luxury Viking Sky cruise ship terrified they would drown, as they feared the vessel would turn on its side, Mail Online reported.

Rodney Horgen, 62, from Minnesota, recalled the moment his wife, Judy Lemieux, 66, was swept away by a huge wall of water that had engulfed a seventh-floor restaurant—their designated evacuation post area.

“I tried to grab her, but I just couldn’t,” Horgen told the Star Tribune, adding that she swept past him twice more before he could reach her.

“The swells were hitting us broadside, just leaning the ship back and forth, almost to the point we thought it was going to tip,” he added. “People were getting tipped over in their chairs.”

Furniture, utensils, and broken glass were tossed around in the seawater, Horgen described.

The force of the water, which burst through a window flung Lemieux across the room, and she recalled how she narrowly avoided injury.

“There was a chair coming at me with the legs and I thought it was going to take my eyes out. Then Rod grabbed me,” she said.

British passenger Robin Kreger described the passengers’ terror as the cruise ship’s engines failed, and the moment of relief when she was airlifted to safety.

“At one point we were dead in the water and then we had one engine and we were getting close to the rocks. Windows had been blown out. A lot of people got cut and bruised and some were on stretchers. We got off the helicopter and for a moment I almost cried. That was after the adrenaline and we were on land and we were okay,” she told The Times.

Of the 1,373 passengers and crew aboard the Viking Sky, 475 were evacuated by helicopter when engine trouble struck along Hustadvika Bay—a treacherous area of Norwegian coast known for rough and frigid waters.

The ship’s crew issued a mayday call on March 23 for the rescue of its passengers before it made it safely to the nearby Norwegian port of Molde the following day, escorted by tugboats.

Speaking to The Times, Olav Magne Stromsholm, who captains dive ships in the area, said, “It’s the most dangerous coast in all Norway. It’s a graveyard for ships. Even with modern navigation instruments, there is a major shipwreck in the strait every couple of years.”

Around 20 passengers were injured in the ordeal aboard Viking Sky, which had been set to arrive in Tilbury, Essex, tomorrow.

“The injuries that I saw were mostly injuries from falls that people either lost their footing on the ship was rolling or slipped on wet tiles. There were cuts to the head, cuts to the arms and the legs, and I heard some people broke bones,” passenger Alexus Sheppard told the “Today” show.

It isn’t the first time the cruise line has suffered engine failures, The Times reported.

The Viking Star had engine trouble in August 2015, near Tallinn, Estonia. More recently, the Viking Sea was stuck in Barcelona after it lost power in December 2016, and again in Malta the same year.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.