Cruise ship passengers who've been stranded in the Arctic for almost two days were rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard Sunday.
The Clipper Adventurer cruise ship ran aground Friday when it hit a rock that wasn't on the map.
It was carrying 110 passengers on a cruise through the Northwest Passage when the mishap happened. No injuries have been reported among the passengers and 69 crew members on board.
A Canadian Coast Guard official said the icebreaker Amundsen was dispatched to the scene after getting word of the accident late Friday. The rescue ship arrived Sunday afternoon.
An operation to remove passengers started at around 4 p.m. E.T.
"They're ferrying them now to the Amundsen," Coast Guard spokeswoman Theresa Nichols said from Winnipeg.
"They think that whole process will be about four hours."
She said the Clipper's crew members were expected to remain on the idled ship for now.
So far there has been no pollution, such as oil, spilled in the water because of the incident, Ms. Nichols said.
Once all the passengers are moved to the icebreaker, they will be brought to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, located about 55 nautical miles east, and then flown to Edmonton.
Ms. Nichols said weather is not a factor in the rescue operation.
"Skies are sunny and waters are calm," she said.
An employee with the cruise ship's operator, Adventure Canada, said there was a bit of a jarring movement when the ship ran aground, but otherwise the passengers felt like "explorers" in uncharted territory.
Adventure Canada is a Mississauga, Ont.-based company. It was founded in 1987 with the goal of bringing travellers to Canada's "blank spaces," or remote areas.
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