Cruise ship with 206 passengers stuck in Greenland’s Arctic

The Ocean Explorer ran aground at about noon on Monday above the Arctic Circle in Alpefjord.

A luxury cruise ship with 206 people on board has remained stuck in a remote Greenland location after running aground earlier this week.

The Ocean Explorer ran aground on Monday above the Arctic Circle in Alpefjord, in the Northeast Greenland National Park. The park covers 972,000 square kilometres (375,000 square miles), almost as much land as France and Spain combined, and approximately 80 percent is permanently covered by an ice sheet, according to the Visit Greenland tourism board.

The Ocean Explorer’s crew made two failed attempts to get the ship to float free on its own during high tide.

The Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command (JAC) said the tide had failed to lift the 104-metre (341-foot) Ocean Explorer enough to free it. A fish trawler’s attempt to free the ship also failed.

Armed forces personnel stationed in Greenland have inspected the Ocean Explorer and spoken to those on board, concluding that they were in good condition.

The Danish navy’s Knud Rasmussen patrol vessel was expected to arrive at the Alpefjord site on Friday afternoon.

“If everything goes well, they will help the ship get out of this emergency that they’re in at this moment. But it depends on how everything looks when they arrive on Friday so we need to see how it goes,” a JAC spokesperson said.

The JAC also said there were other ships in the vicinity of the stranded cruise liner and “if the need arises, personnel from the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol can be at the accident site within an hour and a half”.

Passengers and crew members ‘safe and well’

In a statement, Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, which operates the ship, said the passengers and crew members were safe and well and that there was “no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment”.

Dozens of cruise ships sail along Greenland’s coast every year so passengers can admire the picturesque mountainous landscape with fjords, musk oxen, and waterways packed with icebergs of different sizes and glaciers jutting out into the sea.

Captain Flemming Madsen of Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command, said the passengers on the Ocean Explorer were “a mix” of tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the United States and South Korea.

Greenland is a semi-independent territory that is part of the Danish realm, as are the Faroe islands.

The weather in the region on Wednesday featured sun, a clear blue sky and a temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Danish Meteorological Institute.

The Ocean Explorer was built in 2021 and is owned by Copenhagen SunStone Ships, which is part of Denmark’s SunStone Group. It has an inverted bow, shaped like the one on a submarine.

It has 77 cabins, 151 passenger beds and 99 beds for crew, and several restaurants, according to the Sunstone Group website.

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