Hundreds Of Passengers Stranded After Cruise Ship Runs Aground In Greenland

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More than 200 passengers will be trapped aboard a luxury cruise ship until at least Friday after it ran aground in a remote part of Greenland Monday afternoon and crew attempts to free the vessel from a bed of sediment, silt and sand have been unsuccessful so far.

An expedition cruise ship called the Ocean Explorer became stuck Monday around noon, more than 850 miles from Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, in an area Brian Jensen of the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command described in a statement as having “no population.”

Rescue efforts aren’t expected to reach the scene until Friday, but a military flight over the ship confirmed its hull is intact, there is no oil spilling from the vessel and there have been no injuries.

Aurora Expeditions, the ship’s operator, said there is no immediate danger to anyone on board or to the surrounding environment, and there are enough supplies aboard the ship to last until the Danish naval vessel that has been diverted to help arrives.

Crew members attempted to float clear of land at several high tides but were unsuccessful because the boat is held in place by suction from mud, Jensen told Bloomberg.

There are 206 people on board.

“The nearest help is far away, our units are far away, and the weather can be very unfavorable,” Jensen said. “However, in this specific situation, we do not see any immediate danger to human life or the environment.”

On average, 2.5 cruise ships run aground per year, the New York Times reported in 2013. Ninety-eight ships hit land between 1972 and 2011.

Aurora Expeditions specializes in arctic trips and boasts the Ocean Explorer as able to “travel to the world’s most remote destinations” with “cutting-edge technology.” Its website says Greenland cruises take passengers to the Arctic Circle and warns the trip is “made for rugged explorers.” The company offers seven different Greenland trips with a minimum duration of 15 days at prices that range from $15,836 to more than $33,000 for a 30-day trip. Travelers visit the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Scoresbysund fjord system and the town of Sisimiut.

50%. That’s how much the number of cruises around Greenland has risen in the last year, per Bloomberg.

For an increasingly large number of polar cruisers, Greenland and Svalbard in Norway have become the most popular destinations for Arctic tourism. The increasing number of visitors prompted the country’s tourism arm, Visit Greenland, to last year announce it would no longer “support the development of conventional cruise tourism,” a move several other countries have taken in recent years. The agency said cruise tourism does not contribute to sustainable development and the country will no longer market to the cruise industry. Greenland—a self-governing territory of Denmark—saw a record number of calls in its ports last summer on top of an 89% rise in cruise visits between 2016 and 2018. Other places that have moved to limit or ban cruises include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice, Dublin, Santorini and French Polynesia.

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