Although it was initially believed that George and Norma Trillia of Richmond were on the Aurora Australis, it turns out they were not aboard the vessel, officials said. They were aboard a different vessel off Antarctica, on an expedition in another area.
RICHMOND -- An adventurous elderly couple are going to have an icy new year after an excursion ship they took down to Antarctica got stuck in the ice.
George and Norma Trillia of Richmond were two of 74 tourists, scientists and crew members stuck aboard the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, said Trillia's neighbor Jane Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said the couple has gone on more exotic vacations in the past, but that it came as a shock to learn the pair had been trapped in Antarctic waters for more than week.
"I was thinking 'There must be a lot of ships that go down there this time of year,' but as it turns out, it is only this one," Gonzalez said. "And it turns out, they are on that one ship."
Crew members had hoped Australian icebreaker ship the Aurora Australis would be able to crack through the thick ice and allow the research vessel to continue on its way. But bad weather forced the Australis to retreat to open water.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Tuesday a helicopter on board a Chinese icebreaker would be able to rescue the 52 passengers when the weather clears. However, that was not expected to happen before the New Year.
The crew said it plans to stay behind with the ship until the ice breaks up naturally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Katie Nelson at Twitter.com/katienelson210.