Sunday 24 March 2019

Choppy seas and a chopper flight

Oops. At this moment, an identical sister ship of Viking Sun (on which regular readers 😃 wiil recall I briefly sailed a couple of weeks ago), the Viking Star, is listing and rolling in the North Sea near Bergen, as her passengers are winched off by helicopter. The captain sent out a Mayday call at 2pm after the failure of all four engines left the ship wallowing helplessly in swells of 6-8 metres, and being blown towards land in an area that has many reefs.

Of course it's all over Instagram and Twitter: clips of furniture in the elegant lounge sliding from side to side past the (fortunately secured) grand piano as the ship tips about 30 degrees, a soundtrack of crashing glassware and crockery, people laughing in disbelief, and then the seven blasts on the siren, followed by one long one, summoning passengers to their muster stations. 

Pretty terrifying, definitely: there are even clips showing water swilling about on board. After a bit, the engineers managed to get one engine going again, and an anchor down, but the main effort is to get all passengers - some of them injured - off the ship, by the laborious, and scary, procedure of winching them, in ones and twos, up into five choppers and flying the short distance to land. There are 1300 people on board, including crew, so it's going to take forever. I wonder what their criteria are for prioritising people on the list? If the passengers are anything like those I saw on the Sun, mostly British and American, they'll all be oldish, and some very elderly indeed. This really is an adventure they could do without.

The Star is the same age as the Sun, built in the same shipyard, as are the other four ships in their ocean fleet, so Viking will soon be pretty busy checking them all over, I presume. And those eight diehards on board the Sun, now halfway through its 130-day world cruise, who are already signed up for its Ultimate World Cruise of 245 days, beginning in August, might they now be having second thoughts?

I can empathise with the Star's passengers, a little: on our Silversea junket along the Norwegian coast last June, we had to hunker down in Tromso for an extra couple of nights because of 6m swells out in the Norwegian Sea, and miss out on three ports because of it. Weather, eh? Nothing you can do about it. Afterwards, Silversea did give everyone a $500 credit towards their next cruise. I wonder what Viking will do?


the queen said...

Ah, I see you have heard. They need to have some sort of Dunkirk fleet of small boats following you just in case.

TravelSkite said...

North Sea, eh. Notorious. Though losing power in all four engines doesn't help...


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