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Ocean Explorer: Attempts to free cruise ship stuck in Greenland fail

A cruise ship carrying 206 passengers and crew remains stranded in Greenland after repeated attempts to free it, but morale on board is said to be high despite an outbreak of Covid.

The Ocean Explorer ran aground in Alpefjord, a dramatic and rugged stretch of Greenland’s eastern coastline on Monday. A Danish naval vessel is en route to assist but officials say poor weather has delayed its expected arrival to late Friday.

Three passengers on board have Covid-19 and have been placed in isolation, tour agency Aurora Expeditions, the ship’s operator, announced Thursday. All others aboard are said to be healthy and safe.

“Importantly, there is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment,” an earlier statement from Aurora Expeditions said.

“That is the biggest concern I have,” she said.

“I had swimming lessons before I came and I’m a good swimmer. So look out: I could be swimming back to Iceland.”

The Ocean Explorer has made several unsuccessful attempts to free itself on tidal currents in the past few days, according to a statement from Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command (JAC).

A larger Danish naval vessel, the Knud Rasmussen, has been dispatched to assist, according to the JAC, but has faced a journey of 1,200 nautical miles (around 2,222 kilometers) to reach the cruise ship.

“As soon as we realized that the Ocean Explorer could not get free on its own, we sent a ship towards the wreck,” Arctic Commander Brian Jensen said.

“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer, from its grounding. Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety,” Aurora Expeditions said.

Danish military personnel boarded the cruise ship on Tuesday and said all 206 people aboard were “doing well,” according to the Danish Armed Forces on Wednesday.

The ship was “purpose-built for expedition travel to the world’s most remote destinations,” according to the official website for Aurora Expeditions.

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