- MS Maud was returning to the UK after a 14-day Northern Lights expedition
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A Norwegian cruise ship carrying 400 passengers and crew has been towed to Germany after it was hit by a “rogue wave” that knocked out power during a ferocious storm in the North Sea.
The UK-bound MS Maud, which belongs to cruise company HX, a unit of Norwegian group Hurtigruten, was sailing about 162 miles off the west coast of Denmark and about 217 miles off the east coast of Britain when the wave broke the bridge windows.
The ship began a 14-day expedition from Tilbury in the UK on December 9 and was due to return to the port of Essex on December 23, meaning there were likely to be dozens of Britons on board.
The footage shared by passengers highlights how volatile the conditions were, as the ship was seen violently swaying up and down while being swept by strong waves, while belongings were scattered on the ground.
The video, which was shared on Facebook, received dozens of comments from fellow passengers, with one writing: “We are watching movies in our room.” Every time we move we almost fly.
A spokesman for the Danish Joint Rescue Coordination Center (DJRC) confirmed that the ship's 266 passengers and 131 crew members were safe, adding that a ship belonging to the civil rescue company Esvagt was able to connect a towing line to the cruise ship.
“The Esvagt is slowly towing towards Bremerhaven in Germany at a speed of between 8 and 9 knots,” the spokesman said.
The power outage led to the crew losing their ability to navigate. However, the ship's main engine was still running, enabling the ship to be steered manually from the engine room.
MS Maud left Floro, Norway, on Thursday and was scheduled to arrive in Tilbury, Britain, on Friday.
Hurtigruten confirmed in a statement on Friday that the ship was heading to Bremerhaven to disembark.
An HX spokesperson said: “Yesterday afternoon, 21 December, MS Maud reported a temporary power outage after encountering a rogue wave. The ship was sailing towards Tilbury, UK from Floro, Norway when the incident occurred.
“At this time, the ship has confirmed that there have been no serious injuries to guests or crew as a result of this incident. The condition of the ship remains stable and the crew can sail under their own power.
“Following ongoing safety checks and technical assessments, and in view of the weather conditions, we have decided to modify the planned sailing route. Comprehensive operational protocols are in place across the fleet, and we always prioritize the safety of those on board.
“The ship is currently sailing to Bremerhaven, Germany for disembarkation. Our team is working to arrange a repatriation flight for the guests on board.
The Danish Meteorological Institute said the region was hit by a storm late Thursday, with hurricane-force winds blowing from the northwest, and it was expected to continue on Friday.
MS Maud — formerly known as MS Midnatsol — gets its name from a polar ship 100 years ago, according to its website.
The original ship was named after the first queen of what became known as modern Norway.
The ship is equipped with technology that its website claims is “exceptionally suitable” for cruises between Norway and the British Isles.
Excursions on the MS Maud cost between $3,000 and about $10,000.
It comes six weeks after the Saga cruise ship was hit by a storm and grounded in the Bay of Biscay, forcing passengers to “hold on for dear lives”.
The Spirit of Discovery cut short its two-week journey and returned to Portsmouth early to avoid the oncoming storm when it was struck by strong winds and choppy waters.
About 100 of the 1,000 people on board were injured, most of them while the ship's safety system was activated, causing it to veer dramatically and stall, according to Saga at the time.
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