NOV. 27 — The first expedition cruise ship built specifically for touring Antarctica is now resting at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. Last Friday the 246-foot Explorer, fondly called “the little red ship,” struck ice that reportedly punched a fist-sized hole through the starboard side early that morning, according to the New York Times.
As water rushed in, the engine room flooded and the power failed, leaving the boat at a standstill. About 1:30 a.m., all 100 passengers of various nationalities climbed down ladders on the side of the ship into open lifeboats and rigid-hulled inflatables, according to the report. The passengers, who paid between $7,000 and $16,000 to be on the cruise, and the crew found themselves bobbing on rough seas for about four hours, huddling with blankets.
About 5:24 a.m. a research ship and a Norwegian cruise liner answered their distress call, and passengers and crew were loaded onto the cruise liner bound for KingGeorgeIsland in Argentina. No severe injuries were reported. The trip was sponsored by G.A.P. Adventures, based in Toronto, according to the article.
The 38-year-old Explorer was built in Finland and launched Dec. 14, 1969, according to BYM Marine and Maritime News. She was the first cruise ship to sail to the point where the Maranon and Ucayali rivers meet to become the Amazon, and has been a savior as well as a victim — in 1989, the crew of the Explorer rescued a crew of a sinking Argentinean supply vessel that hit a ledge.
No reports have been made on whether the Explorer will be salvaged.
— Elizabeth Ellis