'This is it': Couple's deadly cruise nightmare
SUNSHINE Coast couple Steven and Judith Medcalf's European trip of a lifetime was supposed to give them a chance to heal, after the death of Mr Medcalf's sister a month earlier.
Instead, their dream holiday turned into a life-threatening nightmare on board the Viking Sky.
The luxurious cruise liner sent out a mayday call last Saturday during a horrific storm off the coast of Norway.
All four engines had failed, with the ship struggling to stabilise itself.
Passengers have recounted the terrifying experience as a helicopter rescue mission commenced, slowly winching people from the stranded ship.
"The swell started to increase Saturday morning, and very windy, we also had a lot of frozen rain and hail, we were really going up and climbing the waves and then coming back down so it was very, very wild, choppy weather," Mr Medcalf told Sunday Night.
"I didn't like it. I thought 'if this is as bad as it gets, that'll be ok'," Mrs Medcalf said.
"It was getting bad quite quickly. It got a lot worse."
Mr Medcalf recalled seeing lights go out in the on-board cafe before an entire pizza came hurtling towards him.
"That's when we really started to think 'this is very unusual, there's something going on'," he said.
The couple were given lifejackets and joined hundreds of others in one of the ship's restaurants.
"We just thought 'oh my gosh, this is it, this is real," Mr Medcalf said.
No one on board the cruise ship knew the vessel was floating on just 10m of water, dangerously close to Norway's rocky coastline.
As Mr and Mrs Medcalf huddled together, fearing for their safety, they sent text messages to their children back home.
"Houston, we have a problem," the text read.
"We are being evacuated from Viking Sky by helicopter as one engine has stopped and the seas are huge."
Twelve hours after the emergency alarm was first sounded, the couple were ushered to the top deck.
"It was very noisy, very windy. The boat was rocking more because we were on top," Mrs Medcalf said.
"One by one they were lining us up and hooking us up, winching us up in no time at all.
A total of 497 people were winched to safety on Sunday, leaving 436 passengers and 458 crew members on board.
Viking Ocean Cruises, the company that owns and operates the ship, said 20 people were injured and received treatment at medical centres.
"Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew," a company statement read.
Now, the Medcalfs are continuing their European adventure as Mrs Medcalf celebrates her 60th birthday.
"I think we'll look back on it and say 'wow, that was exciting'," Mr Medcalf said.