May 14, 2007 / 1:09 PM / 12 years ago

Alaska cruise ship passengers safe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A cruise ship with 281 people on board ran into trouble off Alaska on Monday but all passengers were safely evacuated and the ship was not in danger of sinking, the U.S. Coast Guard and a cruise ship company official said.

The Empress of the North is seen in this undated promotional photo. The cruise ship ran aground off the Alaskan coast and began taking on water early on Monday, forcing passengers and crew to evacuate, CNN reported. REUTERS/ Majestic America Line

“It looks like right now the situation is stable ... all the passengers are safe,” Coast Guard Capt. Mark Guillory told

CNN.

A commercial tug and barge and about 40 other private vessels were used to evacuate the 248 passengers after the accident, which occurred at about 2 a.m. (11:00 a.m. British time) about 50 miles (80 km) south of Juneau on Alaska’s eastern leg in an area called Icy Straits, officials said.

Dan Miller, a spokesman for owner Majestic America, told CNN the 360-foot-long (110-meter-long) Empress of the North had stopped taking on water and would make its way to Juneau under its own power once all the passengers had been evacuated.

“She only took on water for a short period of time before the pumps were engaged,” Miller said.

It was unclear what caused the ship to run into trouble in icy 3-foot (0.9-meter) seas.

“We’re not sure what they hit,” Coast Guard spokesman Christopher McLaughlin told Reuters by telephone.

The ship, which had been on the third day of a weeklong cruise out of Juneau, has 112 staterooms and an old-fashioned rear paddle wheel, according to the Web site of its owner, the Majestic America cruise line. Its decor includes Native American totems and masks, as well as Faberge eggs and other Russian artwork.

Majestic America is a division of Ambassadors Cruise Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ambassadors International Inc.

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