The storm-ravaged Anthem of the Seas is returning to port in New Jersey tonight with around 4,500 passengers aboard, many of whom feel traumatized by the cruise to the Bahamas run amok.
Many passengers on the cruise ship have contacted our office to complain that they literally feared for their lives and those of their families when the ship sailed into the predicted storm earlier this week. Many couples say that they told their partners that they loved them and said goodbye, afraid that as the cruise ship was rocked by 30 foot waves and blasted by 125+ MPH winds the ship would list over and they would drown in the surging ocean.
Many passengers also told me that they knew that there would be no way to safely board life boats in light of the high winds and intense waves if they had to abandon ship. They mentioned their panicked children who saw the fear in their parents’ eyes of perishing at sea.
Today I was interviewed by several local news stations in New York City, including the local CBS station channel 2 (video below) about the cruise line’s ill-fated decision to cruise into the storm.
Meanwhile, it appears that Royal Caribbean has come to the realization that it made a mistake by not paying attention to the weather forecasts (which accurately predicted that there would be a storm developing with waves predicted of over 30 feet). Travel Market reports that Royal Caribbean has formed a shoreside team of meteorologists and captains to monitor the weather and advise the navigational teams of its cruise ships of storms and whether it is prudent to proceed.
Royal Caribbean sent the following statement to the media:
"Anthem of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty, NJ this evening, and we are grateful for the safe return of our guests and crew.
We apologize for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through.
Our ship and our crew performed very well to keep everyone safe during severe weather. Of more than 6000 people on board, only four minor injuries were reported.
Despite that fact, the event, exceptional as it was, identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing. Though that system has performed well through many instances of severe weather around the world, what happened this week showed that we need to do better.
The severity of Sunday’s storm, with its sustained 120-mph winds, far exceeded forecasts. Even so, it is our responsibility to eliminate every surprise we possibly can.
As of today, we are strengthening our storm avoidance policy, and have added resources at our Miami headquarters to provide additional guidance to our ships’ captains.
As for Anthem of the Seas, much of the superficial damage caused by the storm has been repaired. We expect to resume her planned itinerary for next week’s cruise.
Again, we offer our apologies to our guests and crew."
Statement courtesy of local ABC station 7 in New York City.