Cruise ship passengers rescued off Alaska coast; ship returning to Juneau - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cruise ship passengers rescued off Alaska coast; ship returning to Juneau

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JUNEAU, AK - The company that operates the "Empress of the North" cruise ship says the 281 passengers on board have been safely taken off the ship and it's on its way back to Juneau under its own power. There are no immediate reports of injuries. Majestic America spokesman Dan Miller in Seattle says the damage will be assessed to determine whether the ship can resume its summer schedule of cruises out of Juneau.  

The cruise ship ran aground off the Alaska coast at approximately 12:35 local time and took on water. The Coast Guard says the Empress of the North hit a rock in a strait about 15 miles southwest of Juneau. Passengers were transferred from the Empress of the North to fishing vessels and other cruise ships that were in the area.

The reason for the grounding hasn't been determined yet. The Empress of the North is operated by Majestic America Line of Seattle and is billed as the only overnight paddlewheel vessel in use on Alaskan cruises. The ship has 112 staterooms, a three-story paddlewheel and galleries featuring Native American masks and Russian artwork.

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