‘Rogue Wave’ Kills American Tourist Aboard Antarctic Cruise Ship

A wave breaks over a sea wall near a car on Beach Avenue in Kennebunk on Tuesday, December 9, 2014. The storm passing through the state caused some minor coastal flooding during high tide on Tuesday. (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Gregory Rec/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

A 62-year-old American woman was pronounced dead after a “rogue wave” slammed into a Viking cruise ship en route to Antarctica.

The “rogue wave incident” occurred at around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday as the Viking Polaris was sailing to Ushuaia, Argentina–approximately 2,000 miles south of Buenos Aries–before departing for Antarctica next week, Viking said in a statement.

The woman was struck by glass after the giant wave broke cabin windows, according to Argentine authorities via an Associated Press report. The ship suffered minimal damage and arrived at the port the following day.

“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident,” the cruise company added. “We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies. We will continue to offer our full support to the family in the hours and days ahead.”

Four other passengers sustained non-life-threatening injuries from the impact wave and were treated by doctors and medical staff on board.

Suzie Gooding, a traveler from North Carolina who was on board the Polaris, recalled the frightening moment the wave slammed the ship.

“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was just sudden,” she told WRAL. “We didn’t know if we should get our gear ready for abandoning ship.”

“We wondered if we hit an iceberg. And there are no icebergs out here, but that’s how it felt,” Gooding added.

The National Ocean Service describes rogue waves as double the size of surrounding waves and are “very unpredictable.” They are also referred to as “extreme storm waves.”

Viking cruises canceled the upcoming 12-day voyage to Antarctica that was scheduled to leave Ushuaia on Monday. The cruise line further added that it was working with guests and crew to arrange return travel.

An Argentina federal court has opened a case to investigate the incident.

Viking cruises or Argentine authorities have not released the identity of the woman.

The Viking Polaris was built in 2022 and can hold 378 guests and 276 crew members at a length of 665 feet.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.

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