The partially disabled Clelia II cruise ship is facing extreme weather conditions with 88 U.S. passengers aboard as it limps back to port in Argentina after one of its engines stopped working. 

Operated by Polar Cruises, (but see comments below), the Clelia II is a Antarctica explorer vessel with a crew of around 77.   The cruise ship experienced limited maneuverability as it was navigating through the Drake Passage to Ushuaia, Argentina some 845 kilometers away.  The Buenos Aires Herald reported that the wind was blowing at about 90 km and the weather conditions were harsh.

Other news sources report that engine failed when a wave broke over the bridge of the vesse and smashed windowsl, interrupting communications and causing an electrical outage that reduced power to the port engine.

The Merco Press has an excellent article about the crisis and explains that the Clelia II sent out a distress call and is being aided by another antarctica cruise vessel, the NG Explorer, which relayed the emergency call.  The Chilean vessel ATF Lautaro was dispatched to the area to aid the cruise ship however it is located 18 hours from the Clelia II. 

The Clelia II departed on a ten day cruise on November 30th.  The cruise reportedly costs in the range of $8,000 to $15,000. 

This is not the first time this cruise ship faced an emergency.  Last December, we reported that the Clelia II was disabled in Antarctica when it ran into some underground rocks.  The operator was criticized for not timely reporting the incident and then downplaying the seriousness of the risks posed to passengers. 

The video below was filmed by passengers on the National Geographic Explorer.

Were you aboard the Clelia II during this latest incident?  Please leave us a comment below.


December 8, 2010 Update:

We were contacted by Polar Cruises who states that it is not the operator of the Clelia II.  Before this incident, the Polar Cruises website did not disclose the identity or nationality of the operators (or owners) of the Clelia II.  There is now a link at the website to a press release by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) which indicates that the Clelia II is operated by "Travel Dynamics International" and owned by "Helios Shipping of Piraeus, Greece."   

December 10, 2010 Update:

Who’s Responsible When a Cruise Ship Sinks in Antarctica?

December 12, 2010 Update:

ABC News interviews passsengers after they return to Argentina.


Credit:  Clelia II video:  Video courtesy Fiona Stewart / Garett McIntosh (via

  • Ken Gregory

    My Mom is on this ship. Im sure she will have a great report with pictures. She is carring a all weather HD camera with video. I cant wait for the Ship to return safely to port.

  • Correction to the article – Polar Cruises is not the owner or operator of the Clelia II or NG Explorer. Polar Cruises is a specialized travel agency selling small expedition cruises to the Polar regions for over 20 years.

    Clelia II is operated by Travel Dynamics International and NG Explorer is operated by Lindblad Expeditions.

    The ship is currently sailing at normal speed, heading for Ushuaia. For correct updates on the situation and status IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) has a press release on their web site

  • Sally

    I can not find any news stories about the passengers and the ship. When did they arrive in port? I am so surprised that there is no update to be found anywhere.

  • Jakob Lutz / Switzerland

    We were approx. 2 days behind this ship in stress,
    sailing on the same course on the “Silver Whisper;” we
    heard from our Captain, that there was a ship in
    trouble, we could not reach Ushuaia, as the Hurricane was so strong (force 12 / 196 km H), that no tug boat would accompany us into the harbour.

    Silver Whisper turned back, we sailed through the
    Magallane Strait and arrived safely from the Pacific
    into the Atlantic Ocean ! All passangers were relieved!

  • Hannah Boyd

    Hi Ken,

    I am writing from a production company in the UK. We are thinking of featuring the Clelia II incident in a series we are making about Cape Horn. If you or your mother are interested in having a confidential chat with us about your experience please could you contact me at