Passengers Aboard Cleilia II Describe Chaotic Journey

VIDEO: Passengers Talk About Terrible Cruise
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The Antarctic cruise ship forced to declare an emergency earlier this week after being slammed by 30-foot waves limped into port in Argentina overnight.

The 165 people on board the Cleilia II appeared relieved and smiling.

"They treated us well … so we're lucky to be here … happy to be here," one passenger said.

"We'll go home with a great story," another passenger said.

Linda and Ken Mates said that they were told to expect a rough journey from the moment the ship set sail Nov. 30 from Ushuaia, Argentina.

"We had rough seas going down, they were probably 30-foot waves. ... We spent three days going down and then when we came back, we got into some heavier stuff and that's when the captain idled out," Lisa Mates said.

On Dec. 7, while returning from the Antarctic, 30- to 40-foot waves pounded the ship as it passed through the Drake Passage, an area known for its rough seas. The waves knocked out communications on the ship and partially disabled the ship's engine.

Passengers said that the rough seas created chaos inside the ship, with garbage cans rolling down halls, men and women flipping over in their chairs and some were even launched out of bed.

"The ship rolled and the next thing you know you saw peoples' feet going over even though they were sitting down … the chairs just plain tipped over," one passenger said.

The Mates couple said that despite the rough seas, none of the 88 American passengers were injured and only one of the 77 crew members was hurt.

"The staff was there to help people maneuver around so that no one would get hurt," Linda Mates said.

The kitchen continued to operate throughout most of the ordeal providing meals to the passengers, she said.

"Only one lunch the kitchen could not function and they came out with little finger sandwiches for us," Linda Mates said.

This isn't the first time the Cleila II has been in trouble. Last year, the same ship ran aground with a different captain. The cruise company, Travel Dynamics International, said that the captain of the ship for this journey was heroic, staying on the bridge for four days straight.

Company to Refund Passengers and Fly Them Home

Jon Bowermaster, an expert Antarctica adventurer, has taken 20 trips to the region and knows the dangers first hand.

"That's like slamming into a three story building repeatedly … it hits the waves, stops, hits the waves, stops. If you're in the boat, you're going to be tossed around a lot," Bowermaster said.

The Mates couple said that they knew the risk heading into the cruise and they don't regret the trip.

"To go to Antarctica, it was well worth it. We'd do it again," Ken Mates said.

The company that owns the ship told ABC News that they plan to charter a plane to fly passengers home tomorrow. All passengers are expected to get a full refund too.

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