A fishing vessel owned by Greenland’s government will attempt to use a high tide to pull free a Bahamas-flagged luxury cruise ship carrying 206 people that ran aground in the world’s northern-most national park, authorities said.
Captain Flemming Madsen, of the Danish Joint Arctic Command, said the passengers and crew on the ship stranded in north-western Greenland were doing fine and “all I can say is that they got a lifetime experience”.
The scientific fishing vessel was scheduled to arrive later Wednesday and will attempt – when the conditions are right – to pull the 343ft-long and 60ft-wide MV Ocean Explorer free.
The cruise ship ran aground on Monday in Alpefjord in the Northeast Greenland National Park, which is known for icebergs and the musk oxen that roam the coast.
The crew made two failed attempts to get the ship to float free on its own during high tide.
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”.
“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer from its grounding. Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety,” the statement said.
Located across from the ice sheet that covers the world’s largest island, Alpefjord sits in a remote corner of Greenland, some 149 miles away from the closest settlement, Ittoqqortoormiit, which itself is nearly 870 miles from the country’s capital, Nuuk.
Dozens of cruise ships sail along Greenland’s coast every year so that passengers can admire the picturesque mountainous landscape with fjords, the waterways packed with icebergs of different sizes and glaciers jutting out into the sea.
Capt Madsen said the passengers were “a mix” of tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the US and South Korea.
Greenland is a semi-independent territory that is part of the Danish realm, as are the Faeroe Islands.
The people on board “are in a difficult situation, but given the circumstances, the atmosphere on the ship is good, and everyone on board is doing well”, said the Joint Arctic Command.
“There are no signs that the ship was seriously damaged by the grounding,” it added.
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.
The Joint Arctic Command 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”.
On Tuesday, members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a Danish naval unit that conducts long-range reconnaissance and enforces Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness, paid them a visit and explained the situation “which calmed them down as some were anxious”, said Capt Madsen, who was the on-duty officer with the Joint Arctic Command.