TODAY   |  December 30, 2013

Thick ice prevents rescue of Antarctic ship

Rescue attempts have thus far failed for a Russian ship stranded in thick ice off the coast of Antarctica. NBC’sSara James reports on the latest efforts.

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>> there are new developments this morning to try to reach that ship trapped in antarctica. another ship has been forced to turn back. sarah is following it from australia. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. the crew of the australian ice cutter hoped to reach the stranded ship at this hour. instead the passengers remain trapped and the end of their ordeal is nowhere in sight. despite low temperatures.

>> it's the morning of the 30th of december and it's a blizzard here.

>> reporter: the day began with high spirits for the 74 passengers aboard this stranded russian ship, stuck in off off antarctica.

>> having a fantastic time everyone.

>> reporter: an adventure which appeared to be at an end with the intending arrival of an australian rescue ship.

>> we're in a good mood because it's only 20 kilometers away and we're looking forward to seeing her.

>> reporter: but those hopes were dashed this morning when the ice cutter specially built to plow through antarctic waters found the 10 foot ice too thick. this was the latest rescue attempt. a chinese vessel also tried and failed to cut through the ice. both ships remain in the vicinity and an air lift by helicopter has also been scratched for now due to bad weather .

>> you go into bunker down mode and drink a lot of gin but you use the time you have as productively as you can.

>> reporter: as they ponder what next, the crew of the ship say they have enough food and provisions. so scientists keep busy with research and passengers keep the world up to date.

>> we love you all and we're missing you, but we'll be with you soon.

>> reporter: and passengers have been stranded since christmas. now they're preparing to celebrate new year's eve which looks like it's going to be another holiday on the ice, jane.