Cruise Ship Damaged by Massive Wave in Antarctic

Posted Dec 8th 2010 12:28 PMUpdated Dec 8th 2010 09:51 PM


A massive wave in the Antarctic hit a small luxury cruise ship with 165 passengers and crew onboard so badly the vessel temporarily lost one of its engines.

The all-suite Clelia II was in the Drake Passage, heading back to Argentina, when the 30-foot wave washed over the deck.

The wave wiped out the expedition ship's power and communication system for a time, and shattered windows, according to various press reports. The ship declared an emergency.

The Clelia II is operated by New York-based Travel Dynamics International and owned by Helios Shipping of Piraeus, Greece. All the passengers onboard are American. One crew member sustained minor injuries.

Another ship, the National Geographic Explorer, operated by Lindblad Expeditions, happened to be nearby and was able to offer aid, including rigging a satellite phone to the distressed ship.

The Explorer also captured the bobbing Clelia II on video.

The ship is headed back to the port of Ushuia, in southern Argentina, at normal speed, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. The ship had begun the Antarctica itinerary on Nov. 30.

The Captain of the Clelia II said he had done 160 trips to the area and never seen such weather, even in an area known for rough seas.

But last year, the same ship was taken out of service for much of the winter season after it hit rocks near Antarctica's Petermann Island and a propeller was damaged. The accident was blamed on strong currents.

Note: This story has been updated.

Filed Under: News

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Mark, You gave the best expert analysis on this situation. You’re absolutely right; the cruise industry is sailing on the schedule, not weather.
Average tourist has no control at all. We booked the trip to Antarctic last year and the trip was cancelled in the last minutes and were told the ship (MS Expedition)’s has engine problem. We’re glad it was cancelled.
Then we rebooked the same trip scheduled to leave Ushuaia on Dec 19, 2010.
This time, our tour operator chartered Dynamic International’s Celia II. It is uncomfortable to know the same ship had incident at Petemanm Island last Christmas. Now I believe the ship company downplayed the incident and blamed it on the strong sea current.
Right after Celia II’s Dec 8 incident, we called our tour operator and they insisted the news is not correct and the ship engine is fine. How can they make the decision while the ship still on the way back to Ushuaia. Does anyone should make thorough investigation of the ship’s damage? But it is decided our trip is sailing as scheduled.
Now I don’t know what to believe. Does any governing organization will see the ship’s safety record and permit to sail?
I appulse your suggestion. How can we crusade the strict control the cruise industry especially to the pristine continent and danger waterway? Argentina government? Who is governing body of Consultative Powers of the Antarctic Treaty?

December 10 2010 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I first became aware of these "Rouge Waves" from an article in Readers Digest about 10 years ago. There is a new book out now called WAVE about these 100 foot waves that are running around in the oceans. It has changed my mind about ever taking a cruise. Give me a nice sunny beach in a tropical climate with a little lagoon.

December 10 2010 at 7:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have NO desire to go on a cruise. What with all the crime, illness, crazy weather situations like this and excess drinking going on give me a nice relaxing resort. I'll skip the ship thanks.

December 08 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A bit of misinformation in the article about the Clelie II. Polar Cruises does not own or operate the ship. Polar Cruises is a specialty booking agent for small expedition ships to the Polar regions. The ship is operated by Travel Dynamics International in NYC. Official press release about the incident from IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators)

December 08 2010 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HMF should dissolve.

December 08 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We cruised through the Great Lakes this past summer on the Clelia II. She is a beautiful ship, We hope she will make it through this and be back cruising again. She will not be in the Great Lakes, however.

December 08 2010 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dam Terrorist

December 08 2010 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lee's comment
Lars Cain


December 08 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was on a cruise of the Western Carribean several years back where we not only had windows breaking all over the ship becuase of the 40-50 foot waves, but rooms became flooded, the ship ran out of dramamine because even the staff had to take it to keep their stomach contents down. On the same trip the front of the ship was lifted by a water spout, and we had an earthquake at one of our port of calls so we could not take a tender there and that leg of the trip was eliminated. The captain said it was the worst trip in his 35 years of sailing. The one in the story above pales in comparison to the horrific adventure we had!

December 08 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jan's comment

Too many drinks Jan, a waterspout will not life the bow of your cruise ship as you reported, and 40-50 waves you would not have been in the western Caribbean. Exciting story, however.

Regards, Patrick in Cocoa Beach.

December 08 2010 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Roye

I've sailed my own sailboat to that region of Antarctica, as well as four lengthy Arctic voyages. As a career mariner (Bering Sea fisherman) I'm astounded at the casualness of these cruise operators. Keeping to an itinerary is just plain poor seamanship, as prudence dictates sailing by the weather, not the calendar. Yet in the year and a half that we spent in the Ushuaia/Puerto Williams area of the Cape Horn region (teaching English to Armada de Chile personnel while preparing for the Antarctic voyage and gaining the required permits) we would see poorly adapted ships (too much glass, bows too fine, too much top-hamper) repeatedly sailing to a schedule regardless of weather, limping back with glass smashed out, refusing to turn back due to conditions, and just plain folly motivated by commercial concerns instead of maritime prudence. This remains one of the last true wilderness areas on the planet, an incredibly fragile region, yet last season the cruise industry landed 40,000 passengers in Antarctica. The year of my voyage, 2008, the Explorer (former Lindblad Explorer) sank after collision with ice or rocks, and they were just plain lucky that another ship was close enough t assist as the ice closed in around passengers in rafts. To say that this same ship hit rocks a year ago because of "strong currents" is bogus. It hit rocks because the master failed to judge the strong currents and navigate accordingly. This is also too frequently a function of trying to keep a time table. It's time for the Consultative Powers of the Antarctic Treaty to restrict the number of voyages, regulate the type of ship, and revisit sound seamanship before this region is devastated and passengers injured.

December 08 2010 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mark Roye's comment

Mark, that was a very interesting comment on this wife has been wanting to go on a cruise but i keep reading all kinds of negative things with this industry.From things like this where your life is endangered and the one where wthey were stranded and diffrent viruses making people sick.I think i will stick to hotels on land!

December 08 2010 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the excellent and insightful comments.I was wondering how the hell this ship got itself into such a dangerous situation. That ship looked ill equiped for those treacherous waters. Thanks!

December 08 2010 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would lose my lunch with all those waves!!

December 08 2010 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to j's comment

Give me a warm beach in cancun.

December 08 2010 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply