by Nancy Shack, WBZ NewsRadio1030
BOSTON, Mass (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two women from New England are safe after their cruise ship was stranded in rough seas off the coast of Norway.
Deborah Kellett of Boston and Dr. Ann Marie Decker of Rye, New Hampshire were among 1300 passengers and crew aboard the "Viking Sky" which lost engine power in bad weather on Saturday. Kellett says things were getting desperate as passengers said prayers in the ship's theater while Dr. Decker of Rye New Hampshire says she was actually submerged in water for a time.
The ship sent a distress signal 0 days into a 12 day trip after a combination of engine problems and bad weather brought the cruise to a halt. Authorities say 479 people were airlifted to safety and tug boats towed the vessel to port with around a thousand people still on board after it regained power in three of its 4 engines.
Initially five helicopters and a number of vessels were sent to evacuate the passengers but officials report they were forced to divert resources when a nearby freight vessel lost engine power, putting that ship's crew in danger.
Norwegian police say evacuees are being processed on shore at the Brynhallen indoor sports stadium and will be taken to hotels in Molde and Kristiansund, where aid centers have been established by the Norwegian Red Cross.
According to Viking Ocean Cruises, The Viking Sky was built in 2017 and can hold 930 guests. The ship was on its way to Stavanger from Tromso. Its next sailing scheduled for March 27, has been canceled.