Antarctic cruise ship runs into trouble in Southern Ocean

Another Antarctic cruise ship ran into trouble yesterday while crossing the treacherous Drake Passage on its return voyage to Ushuaia, Argentina from the Antarctic Peninsula. The Clelia II suffered engine failure that left it adrift in the Southern Ocean for a time while the region’s notoriously bad weather pounded the vessel.

According to this report from Gadling’s very own Jon Bowermaster, the Clelia II has 88 passengers and 77 crew members on board. All of the passengers are reportedly fine and in good health, while one crew member has suffered minor injuries in the line of duty.

The ship was spotted and passed by the National Geographic Explorer, another cruise ship, which was also making the return voyage to Ushuaia. When the crew of the Clelia II failed to respond to hails, the Explorer turned around and returned to the foundering ship to render aid if needed. After establishing communications with Clelia, the Explorer stood by for much of the day, while crew members repaired the engine and managed to get the damaged ship limping back towards South America once again.

There have been a number of high profile accidents involving passenger liners in the waters off Antarctica in the past few years. Back in 2007, the MS Explorer struck an iceberg and sank in the Southern Ocean, while just last year this very same ship, the Clelia II, ran aground and needed to be pulled off the ice by another vessel.

For now, the ship is once again under its own power and hoping to complete its return trip to Argentina where full repairs can be made. The incident just happens to underscore the dangers of traveling in the Antarctic waters, which can be treacherous in the best of times. Fortunately, it seems that the Antarctic tourism community dodged yet another potential disaster. With the poor weather conditions this situation could have been far worse and it is a miracle that no one was seriously injured.

[Photo credit: Stewart/McIntosh]