British traveler saw massive wave hit Norwegian cruise ship carrying 229 passengers before being ordered to hide for hours: 'It just exploded'

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Published December 22, 2023, 6:08 PM ET

A British traveler saw a massive wave hit her Norwegian cruise ship minutes before all 299 passengers were ordered to hunker down in muster stations for hours as the boat battled 11-meter waves and gale-force winds.

Catriona MacRae, 43, and father Ken, 79, were sailing through rough seas on the MS Maud when a high, powerful wave hit the ship.

“The wave essentially hit us sideways and just exploded over the top of the ship,” MacRae told The Post on Friday. “Other passengers reported that the officer who made the emergency call was completely soaked.

“Up to that point it was just a big ocean with big waves, like you would expect with any storm. I think it would be fair to say everyone was pretty scared.”

A few days earlier the passengers had been told that a storm was brewing in the North Sea and we would try to return to the UK before then.

The ship, owned by Hurtigruten Expeditions, had even left port early and missed several stops to try to stay ahead of the storm. But they were in the middle of the North Sea when a stunning wave crashed and shattered the bridge’s windows around 4pm on Thursday.

Catriona MacRae, 43, and father Ken, 79, were sailing through rough seas on the MS Maud when a high, powerful wave hit the ship. Catriona MacRae “The wave essentially hit us sideways and just exploded over the top of the ship,” MacRae told The Post on Friday. Fraser Grey/Shutterstock

After the wave hit, passengers heard noise over the public address system for about five seconds, and about five minutes later the emergency alarm sounded and passengers made their way down to the muster stations. They were told to put on bright orange, windproof and waterproof survival suits and life jackets.

The stations are located on decks five to eight, which are above sea level, and near the lifeboats on level seven.

“The crew handed out swimsuits and vests as we arrived at collection stations and helped people who were unable to put on their swimsuits. It was actually eerily still and quiet the entire time,” MacRae said. “People were obviously scared, but they were remarkably calm.”

In addition, Danish lifeboats were on their way to the ship and arrived within 40 minutes of the distress call.

A few days earlier the passengers had been told that a storm was brewing in the North Sea and we would try to return to the UK before then. Catriona MacRae After the wave hit, passengers heard noise over the public address system for about five seconds, and about five minutes later the emergency alarm sounded and passengers made their way to the collection stations. Catriona MacRae They were told to put on bright orange, windproof and waterproof survival suits and life jackets. Catriona MacRae The stations are located on decks five to eight, which are above sea level, and near the lifeboats on level seven. Catriona MacRae

Meanwhile, the boat lost power midway through the trip and was unable to navigate for several hours. Crew members had to “manually steer the boat from the engine room,” MacRae wrote on Facebook.

“The captain came over immediately and told us what had happened, that the boat was stable, that we had support from the Coast Guard and that the likelihood of us having to evacuate was minimal,” she told the Post about the moment, as power was restored to the ship.

The boat has now been diverted to Bremerhaven in Germany and was approximately 230 nautical miles away at 10 a.m. local time. As of 5:00 p.m. EST, the boat is passing Denmark at eight knots with winds of 14.5 miles per hour.

MacRae said the cruise line would offer flights to London – where it was originally scheduled to end its journey. As for further compensation, MacRae said they have not been informed of any.

The boat has now been diverted to Bremerhaven in Germany and was approximately 230 nautical miles away at 10 a.m. local time. Catriona MacRae The Hurtigruten Expeditions ship even left port early and skipped several stops to stay ahead of the storm. But they were in the middle of the North Sea when a stunning wave crashed and shattered the bridge’s windows around 4pm on Thursday. Catriona MacRae

Passengers were eventually allowed to return to their cabins and were asked to remain there until the storm calmed down. They have since been given the green light to move “carefully” around the ship.

“The storm has passed and the waves have passed. The waves and wind have calmed down so much,” MacRae said.

The British woman said the passengers were “eager to get to the port” and the injuries were “minimal.”

Despite the stressful ordeal, MacRae said it won’t stop her from sailing and that she is grateful to the crew.

The passengers were finally allowed to return to their cabins. Catriona MacRae’s passengers were “eager to get to port” and injuries were “minimal,” the Brit said. Catriona MacRae

“To be honest, I never planned this – I mainly wanted to accompany my father!” she said. “I have booked a small ship cruise to Svalbard in June and have no plans to cancel it. So I wouldn’t say that has stopped me from sailing!

“[The crew] “They were all incredible and I know all the guests I spoke to are so grateful for them all,” she continued. “I really just want to say that I find the calmness and professionalism of the crew on board, from the officers to the cleaning staff who helped guests put on their survival gear, incredible. They undoubtedly ensured the safety of all guests.”

As for Ken, his daughter believes this was his last cruise for now, “but he doesn’t seem to be deterred!”

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