Passengers stranded on Missouri lake cruise begin to disembark
Passengers walk off the disabled vessel that was stranded overnight on a Missouri lake.
NEW: Passengers are evacuating the boat via a 30-foot plank
NEW: The process is expected to take about 3 hours
There are 567 passengers and 76 crew members leaving the boat
Rescue teams are "moving heaven and earth" to bring passengers ashore
(CNN) -- After a rough night spent wrapped in tablecloths and dozing on floors, stranded showboat passengers began walking to safety from their disabled vessel via a 30-foot plank, a spokeswoman for the company that owns the boat said Sunday.
The process of safely escorting to shore the 567 passengers and 76 crew members aboard the Showboat Branson Belle --stuck in a remote area of Missouri's Table Rock Lake since Saturday afternoon -- was expected to take about three hours, said Lisa Rau, a spokeswoman for Herschend Family Entertainment.
The incident left hundreds of passengers trapped on a boat with no sleeping accommodations.
Earlier, the arduous task of reaching the boat's remote location involved bulldozing vegetation to create a pathway.
"We are moving heaven and earth to get to them," Rau said earlier Sunday, adding that gusty winds and freezing temperatures were making the job difficult.
The boat left the dock in Branson, Missouri, at 4 p.m. Saturday and ran aground after the captain had problems with the thruster during the cruise, which was scheduled to last two and a half hours.
But the boat was heated and had electrical power, Rau said, and passengers were provided food and beverages.
"It's not the best case scenario, but we're doing everything we can to make sure everybody's as comfortable as possible," Rau said earlier.
Jim Wellborn, a passenger stranded in the boat, said that they were in the middle of a comedy show when the captain interrupted and told the audience that the boat's propellers had hit something under water.
"We were almost back to the dock, when we heard a couple of loud noises. The comedian said something funny and we all laughed," he said.
The Showboat Branson Belle is a 750-seat paddle boat with no gambling or alcohol, she said.
The boat's featured "Showstoppers" performance includes 30 songs, according to the cruise website.