A cruise ship that struck an iceberg while sailing around Alaska on June 25 is returning to service on Thursday after being out of service since then for repairs. Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship, the Norwegian Sun, struck an iceberg off the coast of Alaska, sinking the dream vacation for thousands of people on board the large ship.
According to a spokesperson for the cruise line, “while transiting to Hubbard Glacier in Alaska, Norwegian Sun was engulfed by dense fog, limiting visibility, and resulting in the ship making contact with a growler.”
A growler is a small iceberg. Typically, a growler is less than 6.6 feet across that floats with less than 3.3 feet showing above water. The next larger iceberg size is known as a “bergy bit”; bergy bits are usually less than 15 feet in size and are generally spawned from disintegrating icebergs.
However, passengers on the cruise ship have come to social media to dispute the cruise line’s description of the impact. Grom Griff wrote on YouTube, “I am on the ship. We were on the front deck at the time. There was no fog, it was a clear, sunny, beautiful day.” Jerry Pearce made similar remarks on YouTube: “My wife and I are on the ship now. Contrary to what Norwegian is saying there was no fog in the bay when it happened. We were standing on the front deck and could see us approaching and hitting the iceberg.”
This cruise ship hit an iceberg! pic.twitter.com/3HVpwV4E2r
— Storyful (@Storyful) July 6, 2022
Passengers said they felt the impact which was followed by a “severe” judder or shudder. Some also said the ship listed slightly after impact.
After the impact, the ship slowed its forward speed, skipped its scheduled stop in Skagway, Alaska , and limped along to Juneau, arriving there a day before it was scheduled to arrive. Once in Juneau, divers jumped in and explored the outside of the ship underwater to determine if there was any damage.
The damage discovered was significant enough to cancel the balance of that cruise and all cruises since through to this week. Fortunately, while travel plans were altered, no one was hurt in the iceberg impact: Norwegian reported that there were no injuries to crew or passengers on-board and all services on-board remained fully operational while getting everyone back to port.
Hubbard Glacier is a glacier located in Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve in eastern Alaska and Kluane National Park and Reserve in Yukon, Canada; one of the most famous glaciers to be visited by cruise ships, it was named after Gardiner Hubbard. The ice at the foot of the glacier is roughly 400 years old, with chunks as large as multi-story buildings breaking off of it as the globe evolves away from the last ice age to the next one.
The Norwegian Sun is a large ship measuring more than 848 feet long and 123 feet wide. Up to 1,976 passengers and 906 crew fill 13 decks of the ship. It entered into service in 2001.
The Alaskan cruise season runs from May through September with July and August being the highest season attracting the most travelers. Cruise lines bring guests to remote coastal areas to observe Alaska’s incredible combination of vibrant wildlife, rich culture, and breathtaking glaciers; most areas are only accessible by boat.
With repairs complete, the Norwegian Sun is due to depart from Seattle on Thursday on a 7-day journey that will return it to icy waters around Alaska. This first cruise since the accident will bring guests to Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria. And it will bring the ship back to the location where it hit the iceberg on its last journey.