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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stranded Tourists Buzz Antarctic in Helicopter

ReutersThe Finnish-built icebreaker Captain Khlebnikov seen docked at the Far East port of Vladivostok in February 2007.

Tourists stranded in the Antarctic after their Russian icebreaker got stuck in the ice are taking helicopter tours and some are complaining of sunburn.

The Captain Khlebnikov icebreaker, carrying 101 tourists, scientists and journalists on a cruise around Antarctica, is not in any danger, said German Kuzin, an official with the vessel’s owner, the Far Eastern Shipping Company.

Kuzin told Vesti-24 state television Tuesday that the ship was trying to move slowly through the ice, but the winds were too light to break up the ice pack. He said the icebreaker is about 8 kilometers from clear water near the Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea.

Kuzin said the tourists were using the unplanned stop to take helicopter tours of the surrounding area.

“They are implementing the tour program in full,” Kuzin said. “The captain reported that the situation on board is normal.”

The cruise was advertised as a unique opportunity to watch Emperor Penguins in their natural habitat. The Finnish-built icebreaker has been used as a cruise ship for several years and carries two helicopters.

A BBC camera crew filming a documentary about the Antarctic is among the passengers.

Natalie Amos, a spokeswoman for holiday tour operator Exodus Travel, said there were 51 British tourists among the ship’s 101 passengers. The British Foreign Office said it was in contact with the expedition organizers.

Paul Goldstein, a guide and photographer with Exodus, told BBC News via telephone Tuesday that the ship was trying to move.

“We’re currently mobile, we’re breaking ice,” he said. “Obviously there’s frustration, but we’re going to get back perfectly safe.”

He said some people had sunburn but there have been no other complaints.

Rene Reibel, operations chief for the Argentine Coast Guard in Ushuaia, said the icebreaker was moving amid floating ice and no one was in danger.

“This ship was never stuck or run aground,” he said. “It’s floating, it has its engines and control.”

“There is a lot of floating ice, as happens in this time of year, and the boat encountered a large ice mass, which has slowed its return to Ushuaia,” he said.

Reibel said the ship’s return has been delayed from Nov. 16 to sometime between Nov. 19 and 21.

A spokesman for the Met Office, Britain’s weather service, said stations along the Weddell Sea reported temperatures ranging between minus 7 and minus 11 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

A Russian travel agency advertises two-week tours to the area aboard the Captain Khlebnikov to see emperor penguins at costs ranging from $13,890 to $22,690 per person.