This evening Royal Caribbean announced via Twitter that that it’s "closely watching a large storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras. We want to be extra cautious when it comes to weather in the area." The cruise line decided that it is canceling the last two days of the current Anthem of the Seas cruise which will skip Barbados and St Kitts in order to "avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home."

Is this the same cruise line which recklessly sailed into a much larger storm three weeks ago?

The forecasted wind and wave conditions seem modest compared to the weather conditions forecast prior to the disastrous cruise on February 6th when the cruise ship sailed into waves over 30 feet and encountered hurricane strength winds.

So why the cautious approach today? Is this a cruise line that really learned its lesson?  Is this the result of new decision makers back in Miami who decide whether the Royal Caribbean ships will encounter rough weather? Remember, Royal Caribbean announced that the last storm revealed what the cruise line said were "gaps in our planning system that we are addressing."

Royal Caribbean also said that it was strengthening its storm avoidance policy, and allegedly added resources at its corporate headquarters in Miami to provide additional guidance to its captains. 

So is the decision this evening to cut the cruise short the result of more cautious meteorologists and fewer macho captains?  I doubt it. The weather reports seem pretty tame. 

It seems that the decision to cancel the remainder of the Anthem cruise is motivated more in order to avoid bad press than bad weather. Why? Passengers are reporting that over 65 people have come down with symptoms of the dreaded norovirus. A code red is underway. If there are 65 official reports, chances are that the true number is much higher. There will be what the cruise lines call "enhanced" cleaning when the ship returns to New Jersey on Wednesday in an effort to kill the noro.  Royal Caribbean’s reputation can’t take a massive noro outbreak on the heels of subjecting its guests to a massive storm earlier this month.

So what happens when the cruise ship returns to port 2 days early?  If this were truly just a weather related event, then the passengers, whose flights home are still scheduled two days later, should be able to stay on the ship. But if passengers are forced to leave the ship early for the anticipated super cleaning, it would seem that Royal Caribbean is more concerned with eradicating norovirus from its huge cruise ship than risking its guests encountering another round of rough weather.  

Anthem of the Seas Captain's Letter

  • Sara

    My mom was on this cruise. She is currently admitted to a hospital in San Juan Puerto Rico. She has me to viruse and food poisoning. She has been sick since last Tuesday. The only food she ate was on the ship. This is a dirty cruise line…she states a lot of people are sick. It was a 3.5 hour wait at the medical center in the cruise line. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance…another passaenger was airlifted via helicopter. Someone needs to look into this. My mom is very sick. The doctors informed her that her intestines could have ruptured due to being paralyzed by the virus. All of her belongings are on this ship..she has nothing with her except the clothes on her back.

  • Duane

    Love your blog and read it on a weekly basis. It’s doesn’t prevent me from cruising but I feel I feel I cruise with more open eyes now which leads me to thank all crew members regardless of status and increase my tips beyond the customary amount (and give those extra tips directly to the crew members). That being said I think maybe we should give Royal the benefit of the doubt that when the first time they avoid a storm after the disastrous cruise where they sailed into a storm then they are truly trying to make a change. By saying you don’t believe it to be true only makes it look like people are correct when they say you will do and say anything to bring down the industry. When they get back to port and kick everyone off then is the time to call into question their motives. Accusing them beforehand makes your arguments appear weak.

  • AJ Tabone

    Royal Caribbean’s payroll dollars apparently aren’t going to senior management with passenger safety in mind, but more having to do with optimizing revenue so sail at your own risk. Thus far, no news about who the decision makers were that ok’d sailing into the the storm other than the captain, and whether or not they’ve been terminated. If they’re still employed, don’t expect much will change. Remember Costa Concordia.

  • Ed

    I do have a trip scheduled and paid for from March 27 returning on April 8, 2016. What should I do? Cancel or keep the trip?
    Need advise ASAP.
    Thanks

  • Sharra

    I am on this cruise now and what a joke it has been. My vacation was ruined from the very moment I got here and had a rude stateroom attendant and cleaned our room 3 times in 7 days!!! I told the supervisor, who was very supportive and offered us a free dinner to chops, but now my whole family has the noroviurs symptoms and the medical staff is USELESS!

    My baby who has a history of febrile seizures has a fever of 104 and has had a fever since waking up this morning. I took her to medical, which by the way was great at first. The doctor was amazing and super friendly and reassured me my baby will be ok, but tonight when I called the nurse on call to tell them that my baby has a high fever and might have a seizure, he started raising his voice telling me to calm down. I sounded upset because I was worried but he didn’t care. And when I mentioned how I think it might be Norovirus because my husband is throwing up and has the runs, he screamed at me saying I should have been to medical sooner, totally disregarding that my baby might have a seizure and die. The last time she had a seizure 3 months ago, she stopped breathing and turned blue, so you can only imagine how scared I am right now. On a cruiseship in the middle of no where but the ocean, my baby has a high fever with a history of seizures from them, AND the nurse had the audacity to tell me he wasn’t going to help me because I was too upset and I didn’t come sooner with the norovirus symptoms, when I was already at medical twice today

    Then, this afternoon when I was trying to talk to someone about Adventure Ocean (whole other cruise crap problem), the guy at guest services called me stupid, saying he doesn’t care how upset I am and he wasn’t going to let me talk to someone. I couldn’t believe my ears, I was SOOO mad. Everyone I talked to in the line before I saw him, kept telling everyone how they wished they didn’t have to deal with this one guest services agent, and I end up having issues with him as well. So anyway, I finally found a great person to talk to who was super nice, and also happened to be his manager. She helped me with all my problems at the time and was very understanding.

    People all over cruise critic and facebook, and even fellow cruise ship passengers are saying I’m just a cry baby who likes to complain, but please I have every right to complain about these things. This is my fourth cruise and I have never been treated so poorly as I have been here. This ship was so not a WOW, it was a BOO and a half.

  • Steve

    My question is, are passengers charged for doctor visits when noro beaks out? I have cruised many times and had to use the medical facilities twice. Not cheap. I can imagine the cost to a family of four, making repeat visits to the infirmary. I know that travel insurance will reimburse the costs, but your ship account is still charged at the time professional services are rendered. Between the stress and fear of fighting noro and then getting hit with a large bill on debarkation day, is a horrible thing to do to passengers.

  • John Williams

    Welcome to the new world of “super ships”. I have a feeling that we will be seeing more and more cancellations and alterations of itineraries on all of the new class of super cruisers. It is related to design of the newer ships, not only RCL but NCL and other lines as well. If you compare the design parameters (length, beam, draft, heights, center of gravities, and effective sail areas or wind-load areas) of the latest launches at Norwegian, Royal Carib, and others, it is not a pretty picture.
    Ships such as Anthem, NCL’s Epic and Breakaway, etc have been designed to maximize two things—fuel economy and number of paying passengers—by making them long and thin, for fuel economy, and as high as possible to add more stateroom decks, I.e., more pax. These ships are all 1,000′ or more long, but 33% less wide in beam, on average than the previous classes of cruise ships. They all seem to have drafts (depth below waterline) of 29 or 30′, probably limited by channel and berthing depths at favorite ports of call. Their maximum heights, generally 200′ plus, are limited by bridge clearances (think Verazano or Tampa Bay bridges as examples). NCL’s Epic has 19 decks above waterline! This higher CG, coupled with a much narrower (by 70′, on Anthem) flat bottom and hard chines to help stability, exacerbates the rolling motion in heavy seas, to say nothing of the huge sail area (figure 850′ X 160′) in any sort of quartering or direct crosswinds.
    Naval architects have been designing long, thin ships for over two centuries, knowing that a long, thin hull yields much greater speed for a given effort (sail thrust or horsepower), or it requires less wind or horsepower to meet design goals for speed and fuel economy. Think of the China-trade Clipper ships, or the ocean racing powerboats of today, or even the early speedboats and commuter yachts of the 1920’s and 1930’s from Gar Wood and Chris Smith, who were limited by engines of 100 HP or less back then.
    Those lessons were not lost on today’s shipbuilder yards, where the design goals are now driven by Accounting and by Marketing Departments in a fiercely-competitive business nowadays. Passenger comfort, safety, pleasure, and passenger loyalty are all suffering as a result of the bean counters calling the shots, instead of experienced Rated Captains, Deck Officers, hotel services staff, and operations personnel.

  • Bob

    I am taking the Anthem of the Seas on March 27.Should I still go or cancel? I paid for it already?
    Thank You.

  • Sharra

    Steve, medical said they don’t charge you for treating the norovirus.

  • Bob Fitzpatrick

    John Williams just a few above has stated my concerns perfectly. I have been on another line and a much smaller ship tied up next to The Anthem (and other Quantum class ships). In short it looked like an apartment building that was about to topple over when tied up. The real question, for the reasons John stated, is are they sea worthy? I have been on many cruises and crossed the Atlantic on many occasions over four decades and would not set foot on a Quantum class ship due to the simple specs.

  • tinikini

    Can’t wait to see what happens Wednesday, I agree with Jim. Everyone will have to disembark so they can super clean the entire ship because they have no earthly idea where it is coming from, because they don’t care. They don’t have to because there are 6000 more lined up to go!! It is the basic law of supply and demand. One person can’t bring down an bizillion dollar industry that operates with the rules and regulations of a third world country, archaic Maritime Laws and Acts and hundreds of thousands of people across the globe paying to say Bon Voyage.

    Even if they are allowed to stay on the ship, who would want to??? It is infected with sick passengers, an overworked and possibly sick staff, and a bunch of pissed off people who had their vacation ruined or cut short, no matter whose fault it is. Sounds ideal to me………..NOT!

  • Maryann

    My husband, 5 friends and I are on the cursed ship. My husband currently in bed with Nora. I have already had it . Our room steward has 15 rooms to clean. She has been out. Sick half t he time and has 5 rooms with noro. Storm???? I don’t think so…bad publicity probably. Guests are questioning if St. Kitts and Barbados refused to let us dock due to noro. There are Teams of cleaning crew. Handrails always wet with antiviral cleaner. Guests MUST wash before eating. We saw vomit and poop in the hallway. Royal is trying to make it right but give us the whole truth. Captain says only 109 cases (reported). They only have to report 3% or higher to the cdc. Everyone will not report it because they would be confined to their room
    They are making us get off in New Jersey and paying the $200 per person to change flights. I think that says a lot.

  • jim

    I took the madden voyage on the quantum from london to bayonne NJ and it was one of the best cruise ship I have ever sailed on. During that sailing there were technical difficulties with IPAD based activity and other things associated with a first live passenger cruise but it was still terrific. Are the lots of miserable people out there, you bet, if people would just have a better outlook on life that would make things a hell of a lot better. Now back to the Quantum class ship.. (I have been on over 50 cruises) in my mid 50’s, been on every class of RCCL, Princess and Celebrity. AS far as the quantum class, it is the most stylish and activity based ship i have been on, are there bad sea days yes, but by no means were they that bad. Next monday march 7th i will be on the anthem for 12 nights and even with all this negativity, i will have a great time. Example, when i board the ship which may take between 10 minutes to 1 hr which is fine with me, we will reset/recheck our reservation (i am sure there will be some issues with them but that’s ok i am not going to let it ruin my trip), then i will enjoy a modest lunch and get to the gym which is a really nice gym, then get showered and dressed and go to the 270 lounge bar at 5:00pm for an hour or so and then go to dinner, see a show and call it a night. Rather than focus on the bad, focus on the good and you will be a lot more at peace. Overall my 12 days will be just fine, we will get to meet lots of nice people and at time run into those complainers / those that are never satisfied………..

  • Duane

    So reading the news today Royal did disembark all the passengers, however they are paying for change fees for people’s flights. This to me is the right thing to do. In addition they refunded the cost for two days (or 1/6 the cruise cost) and passengers receive a certificate worth 50% of their cruise good for a future cruise. Now the question is did they return early to clean the ship or to avoid a possible storm? That is open to debate and I am sure that people will have opinions for each side. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, they say they learned their lesson from the event last month and the first time they try out their new policy they get questioned for their motives. I am sure if they stayed out and the weather was rough people would complain and if they failed to do a thorough cleaning people would complain. The questioning/complaining starts to sound like no matter what they do they can do no right.

  • Frederick

    Been on many cruises an just off this beautiful ship today. Too much bad press and media and people who like to complain. I read much prior an was concerned at first. There is far more positive on this ship, staff, service than negative. When in a large crowd some will be sick no matter where you go. Royal does their best. If you are booked go an enjoy this ship and be happy….

  • Duncan

    I was on this ship with my wife. We have just got home and keeping a close eye on this so called storm that has caused so much disappointment to thousands of guests.This was a very sick ship. My wife caught this virus on the second to last day. She couldn’t leave her cabin she was that poorly. When we rang the medical centre all they were interested in was payment for any treatment. They wouldn’t come to our cabin even though my wife couldn’t get out of bed. First thing we noticed is that all this ship wants to do is make lots of money out of its passengers. Having said all this the staff were amazing. However I guess no one will ever know the real reason why this ship turned back but surely passangers deserve to get the full picture.

  • CONNIE

    My husband and I just returned off the Anthem and we enjoyed the cruise and had a GREAT
    Time with 8 of our friends! The only problem we discovered , it took to long to be served your food so thefore it was cold,but you only had to tell the servers and it was taken care of with a smile.I think there are people who complain about everything and are just not good travelers.

  • S. Valente’

    What horseshit! Everyone trying to figure out how they can get more money out of a cruise company. A compensatory per passenger of 50% off the next cruise, paying 200.00 for airline change fees and no charge for noviro med service seems ery fair and the next cruise wpuld be more then affordable. No one mentioned the activities provided by the cruiselines.
    Amazing, how so many want a free vacation.