Helicopter rescues frighten cruise passengers
Viking Sky cruise ship passenger Rodney Horgen can pinpoint the moment when he thought he was facing the end: when a huge wave crashed through the ship’s glass doors and swept his wife 30 feet across the floor.
Horgen, 62, of Minnesota, was visiting Norway on a dream pilgrimage to his ancestral homeland when the luxury cruise trip quickly turned into a nightmare.
The Viking Sky was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew, going from Norway’s Arctic north to the southern city of Stavanger when it had engine trouble along Norway’s rough, frigid western coast. Struggling in heavy seas to avoid being dashed on the rocky coast, the ship issued mayday call Saturday afternoon.
Horgan said he knew something was badly amiss Saturday when the guests on the heaving ship were all summoned to the ship’s muster points.
“When the windows and door flew open and the6 feet of water swept people and tables 20 to 30 feet, that was the breaker. I said to myself, ‘This is it,’ ” Horgen told The Associated Press. “I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave coming back.”
Photos posted on social media showed the ship listing from side to side and furniture smashing violently into the ship’s walls. The hands and faces of fellow passengers were cut and bleeding from the shattered glass, he said.
An experienced fisherman, Horgen said he had never experienced such rough boating conditions.
“I did not have a lot of hope. I knew how cold that water was and where we were and the waves and everything. You would not last very long,” he said. “That was very, very frightening.”
And yet, the most frightening part of the trip was yet to come.
That would be when passengers like Horgen were winched off the heaving ship by helicopter, one-by-one as winds howled around them in the dark of night, by rescue workers trying to evacuate everyone on board.