What was supposed to be a pleasant vacation quickly turned into a nightmare for passengers aboard a cruise ship headed for Ushuaia, Argentina, when a rogue wave smashed into the side of the ship on Tuesday night.
According to the cruise line, the massive wave struck Viking’s Polaris cruise ship with enough force to cause damage to a number of windows — and the impact, in addition to flying broken glass, killed one passenger and left several others injured.
Viking identified the deceased passenger as a 62-year-old American woman, who was killed after she was struck by shards of glass from the broken windows. Her name has not yet been released.
“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. … Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel. A two-week journey of stunning views — cut short,” the cruise line said in a statement.
The other four guests, who reportedly suffered non-life-threatening injuries, were treated aboard the ship. The cruise, which was scheduled to travel to Antarctica, was cut short following the accident, and travel was arranged for passengers to return home.
The ship remains docked in Ushuaia, Argentina, and a case has been opened to determine exactly what happened.
One passenger from Durham, North Carolina, spoke with WRAL News by phone — while she was still aboard the ship — and explained that until the rogue wave had hit them, the cruise had been a wonderful experience.
“We wondered if we hit an iceberg. And there are no icebergs out here, but that’s how it felt,” Suzie Gooding said, adding, “Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was just sudden. Shocking. We didn’t know if we should get our gear ready for abandoning ship.”
Despite the unexpected and frightening experience, Gooding told WRAL that she definitely planned to try the Antarctica-bound cruise again. In fact, she said that she had already booked the same cruise destination — albeit on a different ship — for March of 2023.