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MS Westerdam Passengers Recall Icy Approach to Nome

Holland America’s MS Westerdam has arrived in Nome. The cruise ship that holds over 1,900 passengers is anchored just off the coast of Nome, too big to dock in the port. Small tenders that hold about 80 passengers each are ferrying visitors to and from the shore throughout the day.

The ship planned to enter the Arctic Circle to treat its passengers to a special midnight sun spectacle but had to turn around due to extensive sea ice. The cruise ship traveled as slow as two knots while traversing the icy waters. 

Once a path to turn around opened, the Captain ordered a hard right rudder and headed south to Nome. Terry Sebren and his wife Mary Sebren recalled the experience.

“We could hear it underneath the ship on the sides of it throughout the vessel. I don’t think they were bergs’, but they were large sheets of ice,” Terry Sebren said. “And whenever we seen the land, said, ‘Yeah, we got to be getting close to Nome.’”

The husband and wife from Olive Branch, Mississippi have been preparing for this trip for over a year. On the 10th day of their 28 day cruise, Mary Sebren feels confident they made the right choice for their vacation destination. 

“This is God's country up here. After being here two weeks, it's like I've never seen beauty like this before. Never."

On their plans for the rest of the day, the Sebrens plan to stretch their legs and “just see how people live up here.”

Visitors from the Westerdam cruise ship will be in Nome until about 4:30 p.m. Friday, when the last tender is expected to depart from the Small Boat Harbor. 

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