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    Cruise ship passengers sleep in gym

    Kassina Ryder
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, August 11, 2008

    IKPIARJUK/ARCTIC BAY - Passengers on a cruise ship recently got an experience most tourists visiting Arctic Bay don't receive: a sleepover in the Inuujaq school gymnasium.

    The ship Akademik Ioffe, operated by Quark Expeditions, was expected to end its journey in Resolute Bay where passengers would disembark and take a First Air flight to Ottawa on Aug. 3, according to Prisca Campbell, marketing manager for Quark Expeditions.

    NNSL Photo/Graphic

    Passengers from the cruise ship Akademik Ioffe were recently stranded in Arctic Bay and spent the night in the school gymnasium. - photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions

    However, ice conditions didn't allow for the crew's Zodiac boats to take passengers from the ship to the community, so the ship continued on to Arctic Bay.

    "It has to dock offshore and the way we get our passengers off the ship to Resolute is via Zodiac," Campbell said. "It wasn't safe to do a Zodiac transfer from the ship to Resolute."

    A First Air charter was then expected to take the passengers to Ottawa from Arctic Bay, but mechanical problems grounded the plane at the airport in Nanisivik while a mechanic and parts were flown in.

    "We were having a mechanical problem with the number one engine that required us to fly in an aircraft maintenance engineer and some parts in from Iqaluit," said Chris Ferris, marketing manager for First Air.

    The pilots would have exceeded their duty day time - the time pilots are allowed to fly before Canadian Aviation regulations require them to rest - by the time the plane was repaired, so arrangements were made for passengers to overnight in Arctic Bay, Ferris said.

    Arctic Bay's mayor made the gym available, and the majority of the travellers stayed in the gym, while others stayed in the hotel or the bed and breakfast.

    "The difficulty in Arctic Bay is there is one hotel with 20 beds and then there's a bed and breakfast with eight beds. So there are 28 beds in the whole community," Ferris said. "They had to accommodate 97 people plus our crew, so they did the best they could and found accommodation at the school and the cruise ship brought over some foam mattresses and pillows."

    Campbell said Quark Expeditions was appreciative of Arctic Bay's response to the situation.

    "The mayor and the whole town became very helpful and opened the gym for us," she said. "Our passengers slept on the floor of the gym overnight and then we flew them down on the fourth of August to Ottawa."