An American woman died and four other passengers were injured when a “rogue wave” struck a Viking cruise ship sailing near the southernmost tip of South America on an Antarctic cruise, the company said on Thursday.
The unidentified 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass when the wave shattered cabin windows on the Viking Polaris ship during a storm late Tuesday, Argentinian authorities said. The ship suffered only limited damage and reached Ushuaia, 1,926 miles south of Buenos Aires, the next day.
“It is with great sadness that we have confirmed that a guest has passed away following the incident,” Viking said in a statement. “We have notified the guest’s family and share our deepest sympathy.”
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The four injured passengers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries aboard the ship by a doctor and medical staff, the company said.
The ship itself suffered “limited damage,” Viking said.
“We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities,” the company said. “Our focus remains on the safety and well-being of our guests and crew, and we are working with them directly to arrange return travel.”
Rouge waves, also known as “extreme storm waves” by scientists, are more than twice the size of the surrounding waves, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than the prevailing wind and waves.
Suzie Gooding, who was on the ship when the incident happened, told WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina that it felt like the ship had hit an iceberg.
“Everything was fine until the rogue wave came along, and it just came on suddenly. Shocking,” she said. “We didn’t know if we should get our gear ready to abandon ship.”
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Viking said it canceled the ship’s next scheduled departure, Antarctic Explorer, which is scheduled to set sail December 5-17. The Viking Polaris, a ship with luxurious facilities, built in 2022, has a capacity for 378 passengers and 256 crew members.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.