A luxury cruise ship carrying 206 passengers and crew members has been stuck in the cold northern waters of Greenland since Monday after it ran aground. The earliest a rescue could happen is Friday, officials said.
The ship — named the Ocean Explorer and operated by Aurora Expeditions, a cruise company based in Australia — had been traveling toward Alpefjord, which is in a remote corner of Greenland. Its destination was the Northeast Greenland National Park, which is the northernmost national park in the world and is home to icebergs, glaciers and high mountains.
The Joint Arctic Command, which is part of Denmark’s defense forces, said on Facebook on Tuesday that there were no injuries on board the Ocean Explorer and that there is no threat to the environment. Greenland is a semiautonomous territory of Denmark.
Freeing the ship has been a challenge. On Wednesday, a fishing research vessel owned by the government of Greenland tried unsuccessfully to pull the Ocean Explorer at high tide.
The officials said they would resort to other options. The first was to await the arrival of a Joint Arctic Command vessel that was expected to arrive near the grounded ship on Friday evening. Bad weather had slowed it down, officials said, as it was initially expected to get near the stranded ship on Friday morning.
The crew of the Arctic Command vessel, the authorities said, “is doing their best to get there as soon as possible.”
Another option is for the Ocean Explorer to get itself out when the tide becomes high, officials said.
Capt. Brian Jensen of the Arctic Command said in a statement that “we are following the situation closely and take this incident very seriously.”
Aurora Expeditions said in a statement that it had “secured the support of other vessels in the vicinity should their assistance become necessary.”
“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer, from its grounding,” the company said. “Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety.”
The Joint Arctic Command added that “the crew and passengers are in a difficult situation, but after the circumstances, the atmosphere on the ship is good and everyone on board is fine.”
It is unclear why the ship ran aground near Greenland, which is part of Denmark but has autonomy over most domestic affairs. Officials said there were no indications that the ship had suffered serious damage to its foundation.
More cruises visit the coast of Greenland nowadays, with tourists seeking a blend of adventure and comfort aboard ships packed with amenities.
The Ocean Explorer is among them. Built in 2021, the ship was made to “travel to the world’s most remote destinations,” according to a page about it on Aurora Expeditions’ website.
Its interior design is Nordic-inspired, and it has a gym, a Jacuzzi and spacious suites that are 640 square feet, offering guests two large master bathrooms, one master bedroom and expansive views of the sea.
Photos of the stuck Ocean Explorer on Wednesday showed a blue-and-white ship floating in azure waters with frosted mountain peaks in the distance.
Extreme cold did not appear to be a major issue for stranded passengers on Wednesday: The temperature in the area was around 2.2 degrees Celsius, or about 36 degrees Fahrenheit, that night.