It was anything but a typical cruise for Ralph Williams, owner of a Cruise Planners franchise in Omaha, Neb. Williams was leading a group on the Viking Sky when the ship was left without propulsion in rough seas on March 23.

In an email to Travel Weekly, Williams said he's experienced rough seas before, but he has never been onboard a ship being evacuated.

Ralph Williams said, "As agents, we could not be more pleased with the way Viking handled a very difficult situation on and off the ship."
Ralph Williams said, "As agents, we could not be more pleased with the way Viking handled a very difficult situation on and off the ship."

"As agents, we could not be more pleased with the way Viking handled a very difficult situation on and off the ship," Williams said.

Williams, 77, was leading a group of 16, including himself and his wife. Except for him, all were in their 60s and all were experienced travelers save one couple who was on their first cruise.

He described the cruise leading up to the incident "delightful, as usual, on Viking Ocean."

The ship was following Viking's "In Search of the Northern Lights" itinerary, which began in Bergen, Norway. It was supposed to end 13 days later in London.

"We had seen the Northern Lights on our first night out of Bergen and all were thoroughly enjoying the trip," Williams said. "Then the storm hit Saturday afternoon and things got a little tense."

He praised the captain and crew for their work in stabilizing the ship using its anchors.

"The crew members were just exceptional, doing all they could for the passengers when they had to be as concerned as the rest of us," Williams said. "The captain did an exceptional job of keeping everyone informed with updates every few minutes, even if nothing changed."

Throughout the ordeal, Williams said he stayed with his clients at their muster station, talking about what was going on and offering encouraging words.

"There was never any sense of fear or panic," he said.

By Tuesday, Williams and all of his clients were home. One couple chose to leave the ship by helicopter, and the rest stayed aboard until they reached the port in Molde. Williams said his clients were impressed that Viking CEO Torstein Hagen flew in to talk with crew and passengers.

Viking handled air arrangements to get passengers home, Williams said. All have received full refunds, he said, including any onboard purchases of clothing or jewelry. In addition, Viking is offering all passengers a free trip.

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