One of the biggest cruise ships in the world was forced to cancel its intended vacation route and head back to its home port yesterday. Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas was singing a different tune in the face of hurricane-force winds and giant waves that soaked cabins as high as the fifth deck.
The ship had departed the New York area on Saturday for scheduled to be a seven-night round trip to Florida and the Bahamas. But it is headed back to Bayonne, New Jersey, its passengers and crew a little shaken and stirred, but thankfully not sunk.
In the Heart of the Sea
Although Royal Caribbean released a statement to USAToday saying the "extreme wind and sea conditions" were unexpected, the paper also notes that the storm into which the Anthem was sailing was on the radar for several days:
NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center first issued an alert Friday at 1 p.m. that predicted "developing hurricane-force winds" Sunday in the Atlantic, according to NOAA spokeswoman Susan Buchanan. The first official warning from the Ocean Prediction Center was included in the offshore waters forecast at 3:34 p.m. Saturday, Buchanan said. It included a warning for hurricane-force winds increasing to 63 to 75 mph, in effect through Sunday night.
While the cruise ship remained seaworthy through the storm, passengers were told to remain in their cabins and there was extensive damage to some public areas of the ship. Some passengers reported waves cresting into their cabins before watertight doors were sealed.
Sea Safe and Sound
Luckily for 4,529 passengers and 1,616 crew members on board, only four passengers were injured, and none seriously according to Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez. Cruise lines have a duty to provide passengers with reasonable care, which includes taking reasonable precautions to prevent injuries to passengers. If Royal Caribbean or the Anthem of the Seas staff failed to take reasonable steps to protect passengers during the storm, it could be liable for their injuries.
Royal Caribbean said it will provide passengers with full refunds of the Anthem's fare, as well as 50 percent off fare of a future cruise. That could go a long way towards getting a sea-tossed passenger back on board.
If you've been injured on a cruise, you might want to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.