SWITZERLAND, FL -- 154 people have been rescued after their cruise ship hit an iceberg off Antarctica. It's a close call that has a whole lot in common with a First Coast couple's ordeal earlier this year.
A dream vacation, ripped apart by an underwater nightmare. It's hard to put into words, but Donna Hardy gave it a shot.
"It's like Deja Vu," she said.
Her husband Dan went on, "This ship is going down in the same area that we went down in."
For Donna and Dan Hardy, who live in St. Johns County, the freezing, frightening pictures coming in from this latest shipwreck are plenty familiar.
"You think, 'Oh my gosh! This is the last place in the world you'd want to abandon ship and have to go ashore," Donna said.
Pictures from the Hardys' own Antarctic cruise last winter look strikingly similar to pictures arriving from the scene Thursday. A rock sheared open the outer hull of the Hardys' sightseeing ship ten months ago.
"Nobody really panicked about the sinking. The big worry was -- how we're gonna get off," Dan Hardy said.
"We knew that the inner hull was holding. And the wine was free -- so that always adds something to the trip," he chuckled.
Both wrecked ships got lucky. In the Antarctic wilderness, the nearest help may be days away. But Thursday night, the M/S Nordnorge rushed to rescue the latest victims.
It's the same ship that saved the Hardys ten months ago.
"I couldn't give you odds on that -- that the same ship would rescue both vessels," Dan said.
"Poor Nordnorge. Nobody's gonna want to sign up on that ship anymore because they seem to have this propensity for going down and rescuing people in Antarctica," his wife said.
Knowing everyone's unhurt, the Hardys figure this crew will leave with the same attitude as their own close-call companions from last winter's ordeal: their amazing Antarctic cruise just topped all the rest.
"These are bragging rights that nobody will be able to beat," Dan used to tell his friends. "Until now!" he laughed.
Officials say at least 19 people on board the Canadian cruise ship "Explorer" were Americans. The Nordnorge arrived at an island off the coast of Chile Friday, where it is staying overnight because of bad weather.
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