The Viking Sky issued a mayday call Saturday when it experienced engine trouble in bad weather. With 26-foot waves reportedly thrashing around the ship, the Viking Sky was trying to avoid running aground as it drifted toward Norway's western coast.
Frigid and rough waters are common in the area.
Rescue workers were sent in helicopters and boats to help the passengers. But because the waves were so violent and the wind reportedly hit gusts up to 43 mph, the five available helicopters were forced to hoist the passengers one by one off the boat in a slow and dangerous process
Footage showed the cruise ship rocking in the water, with furniture rolling around on deck.
The rescue mission ended Sunday morning when the ship regained power. Nearly 500 passengers had been airlifted from the boat. Viking Cruises then arranged for passengers to return home.
"Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew," the cruise line said, according to UPI.
The Viking Sky had reportedly embarked from Bergen, Norway, on March 14 for a 12-day trip. It was scheduled to arrive Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury. Another cruise was set to leave Wednesday, but Viking Cruises canceled the trip.