Illustration shows the MS Viking Polaris. Credit: VARD

Rogue Wave Kills Passenger on Viking’s Newest Polar Expedition Cruise Ship

Mike Schuler
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December 2, 2022

One person was killed and four others injured after a Viking expedition cruise ship was struck by a rogue wave off the southern tip of South America this week.

The “rogue wave incident” happened on Tuesday, November 29, on board the Viking Polaris, which Viking only recently took delivery of in September, as it was sailing towards Ushuaia, Argentina, Viking Cruises confirmed in a statement.

“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident. We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies,” the statement said. Four other passengers sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were treated on board.

The ship suffered limited damage, reportedly with several broken windows, and arrived in port in Ushuaia on the afternoon of November 30.

Waves are generally classed as ‘rogue’ when they are over twice the height of the average sea state around them. 

The Drake Passage, extending between Cape Horn at South America’s southernmost tip and Antarctica, is notorious for its extreme weather conditions and turbulent seas.

Study Shows Rogue Waves Are Becoming More Extreme

“We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities,” Viking’s statement said. “Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel.”

The deceased victim has reportedly been identified as a 62-year-old American woman.

Viking Polaris is Viking’s second purpose-built “Polar Class” expedition ship and was delivered by Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway in September. Both Viking Polaris and sister ship Viking Octanis, delivered in December 2021, are spending the austral summer in Antarctica, before traveling to the Great Lakes for a series of voyages starting next spring and summer. The vessels, with a length of 205 meters and a beam of 23.5 meters, have a passenger capacity of 378 people.

As a result of the incident, Viking has cancelled the ship’s next scheduled departure on December 5.

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