Nightly News | December 26, 2013
>>> tonight, ice breakers are racing to ant aarctica after a distress call from a ship. they have no way out until help arrives. the story tonight from martin fletcher .
>> reporter: eastern antarctica , the coldest, windiest place on earth. today an expedition cruise ship is stuck in an ocean of ice. the crew radioed a distress signal christmas morning .
>> the vessel hasn't moved for two days.
>> reporter: professor chris turny, head of a team, 47 passengers and a crew of 20 are trapped.
>> we are surrounded by sea ice . we can't get through. everyone is safe. the vessel is safe but we can't make passage forward.
>> reporter: they set off from new zealand to cape denison . they made their way to morrison's base, an icon of exploration. a hundred years ago explorers established the base with camp that remains remarkably well preserved. everything went well until after 18 days on the way home pack ice gripd them tight. icebergs the size of cathedrals. it's lonely. even penguins is trapped on the pack ice . it's cut cape denison off from the ocean. the drama at sea didn't upset the passengers who messaged friends they had a wonderful christmas. the latest news is that a chinese ice breaker , the snow dragon, should arrive within 24 hours to try to cut them free. martin fletcher , nbc news, london.