Coast Guard evacuates 51 from small cruise ship in Glacier Bay after fire


The U.S. Coast Guard responded to a reported fire aboard the Wilderness Discoverer, a 178-foot passenger vessel, in Glacier Bay National Park.

All 51 passengers and 16 crewmembers were safely evacuated and transferred to the Sapphire Princess cruise ship.

The Coast Guard received an initial distress call from the crew of the Wilderness Discoverer at 7:30 am, urgently requesting assistance to combat a fire that had broken out on the vessel. Coast Guard watch-standers in Juneau initiated rescue using Coast Guard cutters Pike and Anthony Petit, along with an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew. The National Park Service also provided additional resources to support the rescue operation.

“The safety of the passengers and crew is our utmost priority,” stated L.t. j.g. Maximilian Carfagno, the command duty officer at the Sector Juneau command center. “The quick launch of our assets and the exceptional teamwork demonstrated by the Sapphire Princess were instrumental in ensuring the timely rescue of all individuals involved.”

The blaze was extinguished, and there were no reported injuries or pollution resulting from the incident; other cruise ship traffic remained unaffected.

Amid good weather conditions of 5-mile visibility, winds at 15 mph, and 3-foot seas, the Coast Guard and the National Park Service are facilitating the towing of the Wilderness Discoverer to Ketchikan. The vessel will rendezvous with the tug boat Taku Wind, which will be responsible for towing the vessel south.

At present, eleven crew members remain aboard the Wilderness Discoverer to assist with the towing operation and ensure the safety of the vessel during transit.

Wilderness Discoverer, operated by UnCruise Adventures, offers luxury adventure cruises in Alaska. The ship was built in 1992 in Rhode Island and refurbished in 2011. The ship guest capacity is 76 and it can have a crew of 27.


  1. The independent cruise lines just can’t get a break! I wish them the best and a quick return to normal operations.

  2. Having done the public relations for UnCruise Adventures for many years, AND doing an eight year hitch with the Coast Guard, I found this article very interesting. An unfortunate incident for UnCruise, who will have to rearrange cruises for their guests, but the biggest thing is, no injuries, AND the Coast Guard has once more, proved their worth as guardians of the seas, and once again, lived up to their motto of, “Semper Paratus”. (Always Ready, or as some say, Always Prepared.)

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