In a dramatic turn of events, the Ocean Explorer, a luxury cruise liner carrying 206 passengers, primarily Australians, has found itself in a precarious situation after running aground in the remote northeastern reaches of Greenland. The incident, a maritime nightmare, unfolded at approximately noon on Monday, September 11, 2023, within the Alpefjord, a location situated approximately 870 miles (1,400 kilometres) northeast of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk. Brian Jensen of the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command was the source of this concerning revelation.
Responding to the distress call, reports from Bloomberg indicate that Danish naval authorities have promptly mobilised an existing vessel, currently positioned off the southwest coast of Greenland, to provide much-needed assistance. Regrettably, the stricken Ocean Explorer will not see salvation until Friday morning, September 15, 2023, when this vessel is expected to arrive at the scene.
The dire situation confronting the Ocean Explorer appears to necessitate the involvement of a third-party vessel commissioned by Aurora Expeditions, the Sydney-based operator of the cruise liner. It is worth noting that the majority of the passengers aboard the Ocean Explorer are Australian nationals, a fact corroborated by Mr. Jensen.
In the face of this alarming predicament, Aurora Expeditions, the renowned polar excursion specialist and operator of the Ocean Explorer, has extended reassurance through an official statement. The company affirmed, “All passengers, the expedition team, and crew onboard are safe and well. Importantly, there is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment.”
An aerial military reconnaissance flight conducted over the stranded cruise ship, measuring an impressive 104.4 meters in length and 18 meters in width, has yielded encouraging results. The vessel’s structural integrity appears uncompromised, and there have been no reports of oil spills contaminating the pristine Greenlandic waters.
Fortuitously, no injuries have been reported among the passengers or crew aboard the Ocean Explorer. Furthermore, it is believed that the vessel, owned by the Ulstein Group in Ulsteinvik, southern Norway, is adequately provisioned for the duration of this unforeseen ordeal.
Aurora Expeditions, celebrated for its specialisation in polar voyages, offers exclusive and immersive experiences, including a 30-day cruise package with a price tag exceeding $US33,000 ($51,000) per person, as detailed on its official website. Among its featured attractions are opportunities to witness the awe-inspiring Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and close encounters with Arctic wildlife, including polar bears, beluga whales, and walruses.
The Alpefjord, now hosting the stranded Ocean Explorer, is nestled within the Northeast Greenland National Park, renowned for its breathtaking icebergs and the presence of musk oxen along its rugged coastline. This unfolding maritime saga in this pristine, remote wilderness continues to captivate global attention, awaiting a resolution that ensures the safety of all those aboard the beleaguered cruise ship.