Icy Christmas for Trapped Russian Cruise Ship

MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian cruise liner with 74 crew and passengers faces a chilly Christmas after being trapped amidst ice flows off the coast of Antarctica, the Australian Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

All on board the Akademik Shokalskiy are accounted for and uninjured, a representative of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

The ship sent a distress signal alerting the agency of the situation. Three icebreakers have been dispatched to rescue those on board the stranded ship, but it will take at least two days for the closest of them to arrive, the Authority said.

A team of scientists and tourists on the Academic Shokalskiy had been retracing the steps of the famous Australasian Antarctic Expedition 101 years ago. The fare for tourists was $15,000 each, according to tour agency Expeditions Online’s website.

The ship, built by a Finnish shipyard for the Soviet Union in 1982 for Arctic research, is described as “fully ice-strengthened” by the tour agency. The vessel, chartered by the Australian company Aurora Expeditions, is owned by the Russia government and is based out of Vladivostok.

Two reporters for the British media outlet The Guardian are accompanying the month-long expedition. Their travel blog, Antarctica Live, has over a dozen posts since the expedition began on December 9. No update has been made since the distress call was sent.


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