Sunday 22 February 2009

Cruise ship carrying 105 runs aground in Antarctica. All safe, ship appears undamaged.

MORE than 100 people on a cruise ship that ran aground off Antarctica have been transferred to another ship.

Ship operator Quark Expeditions said the 106 people from the Bahamian-flagged Ocean Nova were now sailing on another ship operated by the Clipper Adventurer company.

Seven Australians were among the 65 passengers, 30 crew and 11 expedition staff on the Ocean Nova, which ran aground on Tuesday.

The Clipper Adventurer will return to Ushuaia, Argentina's southernmost city and the original jumping-off point for the 15-day voyage exploring the polar circle.

The Ocean Nova ran aground amid high winds and was unable to break free during the rising evening tide as officials had hoped.

Quark Expeditions said continuing high winds thwarted the attempt to dislodge the ship on Wednesday.

But several hours after the passengers were rescued, the late evening tide lifted the Ocean Nova away from the rocky shore.

An inspection by divers showed no damage or leaking, and the operator said the ship would host a separate 20-day expedition of the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands beginning on February 22.

The company, based in the US state of Connecticut, said the ship had been on a two-week cruise costing up to $US18,290 ($A28,618).

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