Woman passenger killed during cruise ship expedition to Svalbard

//Woman passenger killed during cruise ship expedition to Svalbard

seaspirit.jpgA passenger from an expedition cruise ship has been killed and two others are reported to have been injured when they were thrown into the sea from a rubber inflatable boat during an excursion in the Arctic.
The woman, an American in her 60s, was taking part in an excursion from the 100-passenger Sea Spirit, operated by Quark Expeditions, when the incident happened yesterday.
She was one of 12 being carried in a Zodiac vessel which was sightseeing near the 14th of July Glacier just outside the settlement of Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of the Svalbard archipelago.
All the passengers on board were swept into the icy Arctic water when the boat was struck by a wave. Local reports say rescue authorities received a call for help about midday yesterday (Monday).
Emergency crews were told a woman had been injured and was being examined by the cruise ship’s doctor. A rescue helicopter with a doctor on board was dispatched from the island of Spitsbergen, but the woman had died before it reached the ship.
Two other passengers who suffered minor injuries are not critically injured and are receiving medical treatment in Longyearbyen, according to a statement from Quark Expeditions.
The all-suite ship, which carries 120 passengers and 64 crew, is currently in Ny Alesund. It has undergone investigation by the local authorities and has been cleared to continue with its expedition.
Svalbard’s deputy governor, Lars Erik Alfheim, told local newspaper Svalbardposten that the cause of the woman’s death was not yet clear. Witnesses said the boat was “tossed around” after being hit by a large wave. All the passengers were thrown into the water and swept ashore.
Sea Spirit left Longyearbyen on Friday for an 11-day Spitsbergen Explorer cruise with fares from £3,200 per person. Five of the passengers on board are from Britain.
Quark’s website promises opportunities to view wildlife including polar bears, walrus and reindeer. Instead of a fixed itinerary, the expedition staff on board decide the route according to weather and sea conditions.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:31+00:00 18 June 2013|Cruise News|5 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Roderick Eime 20 June 2013 at 9:19 am - Reply

    the water around the glacier is normally calm, so the question must be asked, “was the wave the result of calving ice from the glacier?” It should also be pointed out that all operators of Zodiac tenders instruct passengers on safety and lifejacket use, so it is reasonable to assume the passenger was wearing an approved life jacket. Zodiacs are sturdy and exceptionally stable vessels. The capsizing of a Zodiac is likely the result of an extreme event, possibly a rogue wave thrown up from a calving glacier which would not have been detectable by the driver until it began to break over his boat in the shallow water close to shore

  2. elias 26 June 2013 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    the woman who died was my boss at work in the United States she was a wonderful person my she rest in peace.

  3. John Honeywell 27 June 2013 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Please accept my sympathies for your loss. Thank you for commenting

  4. Gwen 27 June 2013 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    The Zodiac that capsized was not by the glacier. It was very close to a rocky shore. The excursion had 2 parts. One was the glacier where the water was calm. The other was to observe birds nesting on high cliffs. The water was rough, and waves were crashing against the rocks. The Zodiac drivers were told to be at least 200 metres away from the glacier face, Apparently no instructions were given about keeping your distance from cliffs or rocks.
    Deepest sympathies to the families.

  5. Sunny 27 June 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    It is nearly impossible to flip a fully loaded zodiac. The driver might not have been qualified and experienced enough to drive in such areas. There should be a neutral and independent organisation to establish rules and SOPs for such jobs and also excerise control. Condolences to all involved.

Leave A Comment