Luxury cruise ship rescued after getting stuck in mud in Greenland

A luxury cruise ship, the Ocean Explorer, that had been stranded in the mud in Greenland for three days has finally been pulled free with the help of a Greenland research trawler. The ship, owned by SunStone, had 206 passengers and crew onboard, who were all rescued safely. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported among the passengers, but tour operator Aurora Expeditions revealed that a small number of individuals had tested positive for Covid-19. The incident occurred within the Northeast Greenland National Park, where the ship became grounded above the Arctic Circle in Alpefjord, a location around 1,400 km (870 miles) northeast of the capital city, Nuuk.

Efforts were made to release the ship during high tide, but they proved unsuccessful. The Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command scheduled the arrival of an inspection vessel at the scene for the following day. Ultimately, the Ocean Explorer was freed through a combined effort of the Greenland government-owned trawler called Tarajoq, meaning “salt” in Greenlandic, and the Ocean Explorer’s own power. SunStone announced that the vessel and its passengers would be transported to a port to assess the damages to the ship’s bottom and arrange for the passengers’ return home.

Despite being stranded, the spirits of the passengers remained high, as they appreciated the stunning scenery surrounding them. Steven Fraser and Gina Hill, a retired couple onboard the Ocean Explorer, expressed their contentment in spite of the situation. Fraser, who unfortunately contracted Covid-19 during the trip, stated, “It’s a little bit frustrating, but we are in a beautiful part of the world. We’re sitting right near the glacier when we open our window.” Aurora Expeditions confirmed that three individuals had tested positive for the virus and were being kept in isolation.

The Northeast Greenland National Park, known for its picturesque fjords, icebergs, and mountains, is nearly as large as France and Spain combined. It is also famous for its diverse wildlife, including polar bears, muskoxen, and the elusive narwhal. The successful rescue operation ensured that no damage was inflicted upon the environment, and there was no breach of the ship’s hull.

The Ocean Explorer embarked on its cruise on 2 September from Norway and was scheduled to return on 22 September. The passengers hailed from various countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, South Korea, and the US. This news serves as a reminder of the importance of preparedness and safety measures during maritime travel and the need for vigilance in avoiding the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19.