SEATTLE (CIRCA via KOMO) -- A Seattle man says he’s staying away from water for now after a wild end to a 12-day cruise through Norwegian waters.
The ship’s crew put out a mayday call when its engines failed in the middle of some bad weather.
"We were finishing lunch and all of a sudden, it became eerily quiet. And just like that – everything started flying," said Rolando Lamarca of Seattle. "All engines failed. No control. We were at the mercy of the waves and the wind."
Lamarca and more than 900 other passengers were on a Northern Lights tour aboard the Viking Sky when engine trouble late last week forced the ship’s crew to issue a mayday call. There were more than 450 crew members on board at the time.
Strong winds pushed the ship dangerously close to underwater rocks about 300 feet away.
"Until we read some of the more detailed news reports, we didn’t know that we were very close to getting intimate with some Norwegian rocks. We were that close to being smashed against the shore," Lamarca said.
Passengers were evacuated from their cabins and began the long wait in the main auditorium to be flown to safety, Lamarca said.
"We looked at each other and said ‘This is really happening.’" another passenger said.
Nearly 500 people were airlifted out over a several hour period until weather conditions improved and the ship could be towed to port, Lamarca. The Viking Sky docked in the port of Molde at 4:30 P.M. (Norwegian time), according to a statement posted to Viking Cruise's Twitter page. All passengers and crew are safe.
"Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crews," the company said.
"It didn’t really bother me at all," Lamarca said. "The crew was well-trained. The staff was well-trained. The passengers were calm. They follow instructions. They followed the crew and what to do."
Lamarca feels horrible for the 20 passengers who were hurt, he said. Some were taken off the ship on stretchers to area hospitals.
It's an experience Lamarca hopes to never relive again.
"It was definitely not expected at all. It was unexpected," he said.
Lamarca and his wife got to see the Northern Lights on a couple of occasions during their trip, he told KOMO News via phone.
On Sunday, he found out the cruise will refund their money, he said.
After leaving Norway tomorrow and heading to Greece, he and his wife plan to return to the United States early next month, Lamarca said.