Britons tell of 'frightening' evacuation from cruise ship off Norway’s coast

A couple have described the "frightening" experience of being airlifted off a cruise ship which got into difficulties off the coast of Norway amid stormy seas.

Two hundred Britons were on board the Viking Sky ship which sent a mayday call after losing engine power, prompting the start of an evacuation of 1,300 passengers and crew in high winds.

Police in Moere og Romsdal said the ship’s crew had managed to anchor in Hustadvika Bay, amid fears the vessel would run aground.

Some 230 people were registered at a reception centre after being airlifted off the vessel, with 16 taken to hospital, three with serious injuries.

A spokesperson for Viking Cruises said the ship had docked in the port in the city of Molde, on Norway's west coast, at 4.30pm local time on Sunday, having travelled there under its own power.

All passengers and crew are safe, she added, and passengers were due to begin flying home later on Sunday.

20 people suffered injuries and were receiving treatment in Norway, with some already discharged.

The company's chair Torstein Hagen, told Norway's VG newspaper the events were "some of the worst I have been involved in, but now it looks like it's going well in the end and that we've been lucky".

Derek and Esther Browne, from Hampshire, said the "whole boat was swaying, it was very rough", before they were airlifted to safety.

Mr Browne told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan: "We had a few people on stretchers, several with cuts, two with broken limbs, but fortunately we were alright.

"We were airlifted onto the helicopter which was quite a frightening experience."

Passengers are helped from a helicopter in Hustadvika after reaching shore Credit: Odd Roar Lange/NTB Scanpix via AP

Mr Browne added: "I’d never been in a helicopter before, there were a lot of high winds, hovering overhead and the winchman came down and we were then collected up and so I shut my eyes as we arrived into the helicopter and there were 15 of us for about a 20-minute ride."

Norwegian media said the majority of the cruise ship passengers were British and American tourists.

By 6pm local time in Norway around 100 people had been rescued from the ship.

The ship was due to arrive in Tilbury in Essex on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Viking Cruises said: "The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site.

"The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution.

"A small number of non-life threatening injuries have been reported.

"Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests."

The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a mayday signal Credit: Odd Roar Lange / NTB scanpix via AP

The operator advised anyone with concerns about guests who were onboard to visit their website.

The 745ft Viking Sky was built in 2017 and is described on the official website as a "comfortable, award-winning ship, intimate and thoughtfully created by experienced nautical architects and designers to enrich your interaction with your destination in every way".

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We are in touch with Norwegian authorities and stand ready to help any British people who require our assistance".