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Aurora Businessman Frustrated After Being Stranded In Antarctic

Robert Bonifas

Robert Bonifas, founder of Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora, was stranded for several days on a cruise ship in the Antarctic. (Credit: CBS)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — The Aurora businessman who was the link to the outside world when a cruise ship broke down off Antarctica returned to the applause of his employees Wednesday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, Robert Bonifas, founder of Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora, was stranded for more than a week along with 72 others in the Antarctic on the Placinus, a 291-foot former oceanographic and research cruise ship.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Being one of the most traveled people in the world has taught Bonifas, 74, to always have a plan B. So he says he was astonished to learn that the cruise operators had no backup for the generator that failed, cutting power to the propellers.

The 55 mph winds off South Georgia Island on the Antarctic coast were no help.

“I’ve been on a rough boat already, but it’s usually half a day or something,” Bonifas said. “We had a couple of days of really, really tough stuff.”

At least, he says, the ship was in harbor.

“If it would have happened before we got there, or after we got there, we could have been in really serious trouble,” Bonifas said.

Three days after the propulsion problem, the Plancius limped slowly into King Edward Bay on South Georgia and waited six days until another ship arrived to ferry the passengers to Montevideo, Uruguay.

Bonifas was signed up for a 32 days cruise to remote areas of the Antarctic. Among the others onboard was Janis Christiansen, president of FlagSource in Batavia.

Now that he’s back, Bonifas’ frustration with the Antarctic cruise won’t slow him down. He is still making plans to go to North Korea, the Kiril Islands off Japan, and a remote island in the Indian Ocean.