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Arizona couple rescued by helicopter from ‘cruise from hell’ in Norway

(Svein Ove Ekornesvag/NTB scanpix via AP)

PHOENIX — One Arizona couple is relieved to be back in the desert after they survived last weekend’s “cruise from hell” in Norway.

“I am home and feeling blessed to be home,” Pamela Meyerhoffer of Litchfield Park told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

What started out as a normal, 12-day Viking Sky cruise carrying 1,373 people quickly turned into panic when the engine failed, causing the ship to be stranded off of Norway’s frigid North Sea coast during a massive “bomb cyclone” storm Saturday.

“Well there was very rough seas, but we didn’t really know it was terribly wrong until the captain sounded the general alarm, and we all had to go to our muster station and put on our life jackets,” Meyerhoffer said.

She said at one point during the storm, the ship was lifting by about 40 degrees while it rocked from side to side.

“But the problem for us came when we got sideways to the wave, and a giant wave hit us broadside, and it burst through the door,” she said.

“And this squall of water just came in and totally overwhelmed us, knocked us all around. I was underwater, people were on top of me because they were pushed around, so it was pretty frightening.”

Meyerhoffer said the wave filled the room to the ceiling, and it left more than a foot of water on the floor when it receded.

She and her husband John were evacuated by helicopter the next morning because of her injuries, then taken to hospital in Norway.

“My husband was in the Navy, so he’s tough. He has a couple bruises,” she said.

“I have a broken toe and a broken rib and sprained wrist and things like that, a slash on the back of my ankle but it didn’t cut the Achilles. They stitched me up at the hospital, so all things considered, I’m happy to be alive.”

People had to be rescued by helicopter because waves up to 26-feet-high were smacking into the ship, ruling out an evacuation by boat.

The ship’s harrowing weekend ordeal injured dozens of people, including 36 who were admitted to hospitals.

Four people from the ship remained hospitalized Wednesday, including one being treated in an intensive care ward in critical but stable condition, Norwegian health officials said.

The rescue operation ended Sunday when the engines restarted, after 479 passengers had been airlifted to land.

The ship, originally scheduled to reach Britain on Tuesday, traveled under its own power to a Norwegian port with nearly 900 passengers and crew members remaining onboard.

The country’s top maritime official said Wednesday that the engine failure was caused by a low level of lubricating oil.

Meyerhoffer said she and her husband have been on about 30 cruises, and they haven’t decided to cancel the next one they have scheduled for the Baltics in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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