A U.S. woman was killed and four other passengers injured when a massive wave struck the Viking Polaris cruise ship while it was sailing toward the port of Ushuaia in southern Argentina on an Antarctic cruise, authorities said.
The 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass when the wave broke cabin windows late Tuesday during a storm, Argentine authorities said. The ship suffered limited damage and arrived in Ushuaia, 1,926 miles south of Buenos Aires, the next day.
“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident," Viking said in a statement. “We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies.”
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
Neither the statement nor the Argentine Naval Prefecture identified the woman or her hometown.
Viking called it a “rogue wave incident” and said the four other passengers' injuries were non-life threatening.
A North Carolina couple aboard the ship told NBC affiliate WRAL that they thought "we hit an iceberg" when the wave crashed into the cruise ship.
U.S. & World
"There are no icebergs out here, but that's how it felt," Suzie Gooding said.
Gooding told the news station that the impact was "shocking" because it happened so suddenly.
"We didn't know if we should get our gear ready for abandoning ship," she added.
The cruise ship was anchored near Ushuaia, where a federal court has opened a case to determine what happened.
NOAA's National Ocean Service describes these "rogue" waves as "walls of water" that are often steep-sided with unusually deep troughs.
"Rogues, called 'extreme storm waves' by scientists, are those waves which are greater than twice the size of surrounding waves, are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than prevailing wind and waves," the agency explains.
The company indicated on its website that to explore remote regions of the world they have “two purpose-built, state-of-the-art small expedition-class ships: Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris.”
The Viking Polaris, a vessel that has luxury facilities and was built in 2022, has capacity for 378 passengers and 256 crew members.