All passengers and crew members on the stranded Viking Sky sailing are safe and headed home after engine problems stalled the ship for more than 20 hours off of the Norwegian coast on Saturday.
“Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew,” Viking said in a statement.
Sky, which is a fairly new ship having entered service in 2017, was sailing a 12-day Bergen to London Tilbury Northern Lights itinerary when engine problems forced it to issue a mayday call on Saturday afternoon.
According to passengers, the ship was tossed by winds of more than 40 mph and bad conditions near Hustadvika, a rough patch of sea with waves over 25 feet, as passengers waited to be rescued.
The ship’s crew managed to anchor the ship in Hustadvika, allowing rescue teams to airlift 460 people on Saturday, with those with injuries or disabilities taken off the ship first. According to HRS Southern Norway, the rescue helicopters, which had to be reduced from five to three when a nearby cargo ship also lost engine power around the same time, were able to hoist guests out one at a time.
“Formidable effort of the rescue helicopters from Ørland, Florø, Tampen, Heidrun and Sola. 460 people were evacuated from VIKING SKY. All were hoisted out, 1 at a time,” Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway said in a statement.
The ship then regained power on Sunday morning and made its way to Molde accompanied by a tug vessel and two supply ships. Of the 1,300 passengers and crew on board, about 430 passengers and 450 crew members were still on the ship. All were greeted by all day emergency services and volunteers when it arrived in Molde at about 4:30 p.m. local time on Sunday.
According to Norwegian police, 17 of the 1,300 passengers and crew onboard were sent to the hospital with injuries.
According to a Viking spokesperson, the majority of our guests have disembarked or are in the process of traveling back to their homes and the line will "continue to follow up with them to ensure their needs are covered."
“The past few days have been stressful and hectic for both guests and crew alike. I would like to personally apologize for what our guests experienced. I would also like to say how impressed and grateful I am for the efforts of the national rescue services, rescue personnel, local authorities and the people along the Møre coast, and thank them for the concern and generosity they have showed our guests. I would also like to express my thanks to the crew on board the Viking Sky for their efforts and dedication,” said Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen in a statement.
Sky will not sail its next itinerary, which was scheduled to be a March 27 Scandinavia & the Kiel Canal cruise. All guests and travel advisors with clients on that sailing have already been contacted, Viking said, and the line does “not anticipate any additional cancellations at this time.”
Viking already has begun its own internal investigation into what happened "our goal is to establish a complete and thorough understanding of what happened, and we welcome the investigations that have been launched, and will fully support them," a spokesperson told TMR.