Antarctic cruise ship limping to port in Argentina

By The Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES – A large wave slammed into an Antarctic cruise ship with 88 American passengers and 77 crew members aboard, but the ship’s crew overcame minor damage and was heading safely back to its scheduled port on Wednesday, the vessel’s operator said.

The Clelia II declared an emergency on Tuesday, reporting it had suffered engine damage amid heavy seas and 55 mph (90 kph) winds when it was northeast of the South Shetland Islands and about 500 miles (845 kilometers) from Ushuaia, the Argentine Navy said in a statement.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators issued statement saying the wave that hit the Clelia II caused a broken bridge window and some electrical malfunctions that temporarily knocked out some communications and affected engine performance.

“There are no injuries to passengers, although one member of the crew sustained minor injuries,” it said.

Another ship, the National Geographic Explorer, accompanied the Clelia II for much of the day and helped in restoring its communications, according to the association statement.

The ship had 88 passengers, all from the United States, and 77 crew: 44 from the Philippines and the rest from Greece, Bulgaria, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, France, Denmark, Hungary, Indonesia, Ukraine, Romania, Britain and the United States.

It was heading for the port of Ushuaia at the extreme south of Argentina at normal speed by midday Wednesday and was in no danger, the association said.

The ship set out from Ushuaia on Nov. 30 and was scheduled to return on Wednesday.

The ship is operated by Travel Dynamics International of New York and owned by Helios Shipping of Piraeus, Greece.