A dream vacation quickly turns into a nightmare for thousands of passengers on one of the world’s largest cruise ships. The luxury liner Anthem of the Season which was on its way to the Bahamas gets caught in a powerful storm, with monster waves and hurricane-force winds battering the ship, causing injuries and frayed nerves. After docking safely back at home, questions over why they set sail in the first place are on the tip of everybody’s tongue.
A dream vacation quickly turns into a nightmare for thousands of passengers on one of the world’s largest cruise ships. The luxury liner on its way to the Bahamas gets caught in a powerful storm, monster waves and hurricane-force winds battering the ship, causing injuries and frayed nerves. Just hours ago, it docked safely back at home. But now, questions over why they set sail in the first place. Here’s ABC’s Linsey Davis.
After four harrowing days at sea, the Anthem of the Seas finally made it back to shore. The luxury cruise turned into a nightmare when the 1,100-foot boat battled 30-foot waves and hurricane-force winds gusting up to 120 miles per hour. Ceilings came apart. Vases destroyed. Deck chairs tossed in a pile.
Panicked passengers crowded the stairs trying to get back to their rooms. Once inside, filming what was happening in their cabins. It was all captured in these dramatic videos recorded by passengers.
Jacob Ibrag watched as the waves crashed against his window and thought he was going to die. Everybody all thought that this trip was going to be their last, as death was right on the other side of the deck rails. Jacob said his prayers and prepared for the worst.
Jacob states, “This felt like it was a disaster movie, one of those, I don’t know, Towering Infernos, but this was even crazier. I was living in this Hollywood movie. It’s probably the biggest scare that I’ve had so far in my life.”
We talked to Shara Strand via Skype. She was so afraid she called her mother, just in case she didn’t survive. “I just wanted to call and say that I loved her.” The harrowing ordeal played out on social media, some passengers reporting the ship listing at 45 degrees. Many of the passengers were told to remain in their rooms with no contact to updates from the captain or the crew from the ship.
But now, a lot of that fear that was rampant on that ship is turning to anger. Passenger Peter Aloupis says he’s furious that they even set sail with the storm just off the coast. Looking back in retrospect, Peter feels the captain was actually playing chicken with the lives of the passengers, all to make a dollar.
“We didn’t have any idea of the magnitude of the storm.” Said Peter, “He says the boat was listing so much his third-deck cabin was underwater. Our porthole was like a washing machine, literally. We were underwater on the third deck.” But the Anthem of the Sea’s captain says he didn’t realize the magnitude of the storm ahead of time, and he’s now defending his decision to set sail with a storm brewing in the Atlantic.
In a video broadcast internally to all 4,500 passengers’ staterooms Monday, Captain Claus Andersen, who ordered everyone onboard the ship to stay in their rooms, says he’s never experienced anything like it.
Royal Caribbean released a statement saying, “Our ship and our crew performed very well to keep everyone safe during severe weather. Despite that fact, the event identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing. What happened this week showed that we need to do better.”
The terrifying ordeal aboard the Anthem of the Seas comes just 10 months after the ship’s maiden voyage. Launched with much fanfare, the Anthem of the Seas is a state-of-the-art ship, the third largest in the world, with all the attractions, like bumper cars and indoor skydiving. The floating resort set sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, headed for the Bahamas, but it got caught in the storm off the coast of South Carolina the next day.
This storm was not a surprise at all. We saw it coming days in advance, and even the National Weather Service put out a hurricane-force wind warning well over 24 hours in advance. Then it gained strength. A lot of our maritime disasters throughout history have taken place during the winter. We get these massive, really intense cyclones that develop over the ocean in the winter months. Nothing to be trifled with.
The ship was forced to turn around and made its way slowly back to New York. Royal Caribbean says the Anthem of the Seas didn’t sustain any major damage in the storm, but according to the cruise line, at least four people suffered minor injuries, and the NTSB says it’s currently considering an investigation.
Weather can be deadly on the high seas. The El Faro, a cargo ship, set sail during Hurricane Joaquin. The storm battered the ship until it sank, killing all 33 people on board. 30-foot rogue waves hit this cruise ship near Spain in 2010, smashing through windows, a direct hit on unsuspecting diners.
The terrifying wave killed two and injured 14 others. The company said the incident was unforeseen because the weather was not really that bad. And look at what happened on this ship during a bad storm off New Zealand in 2008. Everything that wasn’t nailed down slid around out of control. 42 people were hurt, many with broken bones. The company said it was a rare occurrence that was fully investigated.
Then there was this cruise liner, the Oceanos, that sank off the coast of South Africa in 1991 after rough weather and flooding left the ship adrift. Amazingly, all the passengers were evacuated by South African rescue helicopters before the ship went down.
Now back at port, Anthem of the Seas passengers will get a full refund and 50% off of a future booking. But it may not be enough for some. Something just feels right when you’re idling in the ocean for 12 or 15 hours with the winds and the waves. Charlotte Lipmam, a first-time cruise ship passenger, stated, “The waves were crashing onto our terrace and we were on the eighth floor, and the room is basically tilted back and forth so severely that there was no way for you to lay down on in the bed or even sit in a chair.
If you or a loved one have been injured on a cruise ship ported out of Miami or the South Florida area, please call Pennekamp Law at (305) 998-5595 so we can help you get the representation you need to get the medical and psychological attention you need.