Britons tell of ‘frightening’ evacuation from cruise ship off Norway’s coast

A couple has described the "frightening" experience of being airlifted off a cruise ship which got into difficulties off the coast of Norway amid stormy seas.

Two hundred Britons were on board the Viking Sky ship which sent a mayday call after losing engine power, prompting the start of an evacuation of 1,300 passengers and crew in high winds.

Local police in Moere og Romsdal said the ship's crew had managed to anchor in Hustadvika Bay, amid fears the vessel would run aground.

The ship's operator Viking Cruises said a small number of non life-threatening injuries had been reported.

Footage online appeared to show the ship rocking dramatically, with debris falling from the ceiling and furniture including chairs sliding across the floor as passengers sat waiting to be rescued.

Derek and Esther Browne, from Hampshire, said the "whole boat was swaying, it was very rough" before they were airlifted to safety.

Mr Browne told BBC Radio 5 Live's Stephen Nolan: "We had a few people on stretchers, several with cuts, two with broken limbs, but fortunately we were alright. We were airlifted onto the helicopter which was quite a frightening experience."

He added: "I'd never been in a helicopter before, there were a lot of high winds, hovering overhead and the winchman came down and we were then collected up and so I shut my eyes as we arrived into the helicopter and there were 15 of us for about a 20-minute ride."

8 PHOTOS
Cruise ship evacuated
See Gallery
Cruise ship evacuated
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
The vessel Hagland Captain is pictured on March 23, 2019 near the west coast of Norway at Hustadvika near Romsdal. - The vessel Hagland Captain sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems' and the crew was evacuated by helicopter, the same as the nearby cruise ship Viking Sky earlier today. (Photo by Svein Ove EKORNESVAG / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read SVEIN OVE EKORNESVAG/AFP/Getty Images)
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019. Frank Einar Vatne/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019. Frank Einar Vatne/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
A cruise ship Viking Sky is seen in this undated photo in Tromsoe, Norway. Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway, Saturday March 23, 2019. The Viking Sky is forced to evacuate its 1,300 passengers. (Odd Roar Lange / NTB scanpix via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Norwegian media said the majority of the cruise ship passengers were British and American tourists.

By 6pm local time in Norway around 100 people had been rescued from the ship.

The ship was due to arrive in Tilbury in Essex on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Viking Cruises said: "The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution.

"A small number of non-life threatening injuries have been reported. Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests."

The operator advised anyone with concerns about guests who were onboard to visit www.vikingcruises.com/oceans/my-trip/current-sailings/index.html.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in touch with Norwegian authorities and stand ready to help any British people who require our assistance".

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS