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Stranded Arctic cruise passengers head home

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

0830-adventurecanadaPassengers who were stuck aboard a cruise ship that ran aground on an uncharted rock off the Nunavut, Canada, coast on Friday are on their way home.

The MV Clipper Adventurer went aground Friday evening while making its way from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

None of the more than 100 passengers was injured, but they were forced to stay on the ship until Sunday, when a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker arrived to ferry them to Kugluktuk.

Cedar Bradley-Swan, co-owner of the vacation company, said the passengers congregated in the community hall in Kugluktuk and were expected to arrive in Edmonton early Monday afternoon.

Matthew Swan, the CEO of tour operator Adventure Canada, was on board when the ship got stuck.

"We were on a single line track here that indicated we had 68 metres of water directly under us, when we found ourselves on a rock," Swan said.

"It's a part of the world where you do your best, but there are blank spots on the map."

The cruise ship remains grounded -- a big disappointment for passengers who were waiting in Yellowknife. It was to be their turn to sail the Northwest Passage but now they are heading home.

Murray Waghorn travelled from southern New Zealand to Yellowknife and was ready for the voyage.

"I think all of us are keen to come back and do it," Waghorn said. "But whether we get the opportunity - who knows a year out where our lives will be?"

Author Margaret Atwood was to be a lecturer on the Clipper Adventurer.

"We certainly plan to do the trip next year -- a lot of people we're with have said the same thing," she said.

"It's the Northwest Passage, and it is a trip on which you are likely to see the most whales, seals, other things like that."

"We don't own this ship. We charter her," Bradley-Swan said. "So the owners are sending in a crew today to assess the situation."

The owners will decide whether to try to move the crew off the boat, or sail it down to port for repairs, she said.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.