Another attempt to free the Bahamian-flagged luxury cruise ship that was stranded with 206 people on board in the world’s northernmost national park in Greenland failed after an effort to take advantage of high tide, according to authorities.
It was the third attempt to free the MV Ocean Explorer. The cruise ship had made two previous attempts to free itself by its own during high tide this week.
The ship was stranded on Monday in Alpefjord, above the Arctic Circle and in Greenland’s Northeast National Park. The park is as large as France and Spain combined, and a sheet of ice permanently covers 80% of its surface. Alpefjord is about 240 kilometers (149 miles) from the nearest town, Ittoqqortoormiit, which in turn is about 1,400 km (870 miles) from Nuuk, the country’s capital.
The Greenland Nature Institute’s fisheries research vessel Tarajoq attempted to tow the Ocean Explorer at high tide on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, the attempt was not successful,” said the Danish Joint Arctic Command, which was cooperating in the operation to free the cruiser.
In a statement, Arctic Command said its “top priority” was to get its larger survey ship Knud Rsmussen to the scene. The boat was expected to arrive Friday night, as she had had to “slow down a little bit” along the way due to bad weather.
The cruise is operated by the Australian firm Aurora Expeditions and has passengers from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Great Britain and the United States. She has an inverted bow, like that of a submarine. It houses 77 cabins, 151 passenger beds and 99 crew beds, as well as several restaurants.
There are “quite a few wealthy older people” on board the cruise ship and “everyone is in good spirits,” Steven Fraser, an Australian retiree who was on the cruise with his wife, Gina, told the Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s a little frustrating, but we’re in a beautiful part of the world,” Fraser said. “We have a couple of COVID cases, but there is a doctor on board.” He himself had contracted COVID-19 on the ship, she noted.
Arctic Command previously indicated that there were other ships near the stranded cruise ship. There were also members of a Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a unit of the Danish navy that performs long-distance reconnaissance and defends Danish sovereignty in uninhabited areas of the Arctic. The latter visited the ship on Tuesday and reported that everyone on board was fine and no damage had been detected on the vessel.
The main mission of the Joint Arctic Command is to ensure Danish sovereignty by monitoring the area around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which includes the Arctic Ocean to the north. Greenland is a semi-independent territory that is part of the Danish crown, like the Faroe Islands.