WASHINGTON — Despite being confined to their rooms, passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas are praising the actions of the crew members and captain after a winter storm rocked the ship Sunday.
The ocean liner, with more than 4,500 guests and 1,600 crew members, departed from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a week-long round trip to the Bahamas, but ran into foul weather a day later.
Members of a few closed, online groups for past, present and future cruise ship passengers are sharing photos and videos of the effects of the storm, which include bottles sliding across desks, a ceiling caving in and a galley kitchen in disarray.
The ship ran into high winds and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean, forcing passengers to stay in their cabins.
In a statement to WTOP, Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez says that while sailing to Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday, the ocean liner “experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, with wind speeds higher than what was forecasted.
“In an abundance of caution, the Captain asked all guests to stay in their stateroom until the weather improved. At this time there have not been any serious injuries reported. The ship has sustained some damage to the public areas and guest staterooms, which in no way affect the sea-worthiness of the ship,” the statement read.
Cassie Lauterette, a member of several of the online groups, tells WTOP a number of passengers on the ship have posted in the thread about their experience.
She says she has been keeping a close eye on the thread because she will be taking the same ship and itinerary next month, but adds they situation could have been much worse.
Lauterette says one woman reported falling out of her bed during the storm; another said the carpet in their room is soaking wet from waves crashing against the ship. No injuries were reported, however.
Sen. Bill Nelson has called for the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the voyage into a storm in which waves rose up to 30 feet and winds howled outside.
“The thing about this storm was that it was forecast for days. So why in the world would a cruise ship with thousands of passengers go sailing right into it?” Nelson said Monday on the Senate floor, according to a news release from his office.
The National Weather Service’s Ocean Prediction Center had issued an alert for a strong storm four days in advance, Susan Buchanan with the weather service said. The first warning was issued Saturday for possible hurricane-force winds in the area the ship was scheduled to sail through.
Passengers reported being able to leave their cabins early Monday morning. They say elevators are out of service, and the only access to food and drinks are a coffee shop onboard and their in-cabin mini bar, which is free of charge as a courtesy from Royal Caribbean.
Passengers say the company is also offering free Internet access and movies.
Amid the chaos, passengers are praising the calm attitude and hospitality that crew members and the captain displayed during and after the storm. Passengers report that although some of the crew seemed “frazzled” on radio transmissions Sunday night, they were calm with passengers.
Royal Caribbean said on its corporate Twitter account that the ship would turn around and sail back to Cape Liberty.
“This decision was made for guests’ comfort due to weather forecasts” that would continue to affect the ship’s itinerary, Royal Caribbean tweeted.
Royal Caribbean gave guests free Internet access and a complimentary cocktail hour, spokeswoman Martinez said in an email. Guests will get a full refund and a certificate toward a future cruise.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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