ABOARD THE AZAMARA JOURNEY — The Feb. 7 storm that rocked Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas and forced it back to Cape Liberty in New Jersey 10 days ago was likened to a “weather bomb” by a captain on Royal’s sister line, Azamara Club Cruises.
Magnus Davidson, captain of the Azamara Journey, said that based on what he’d heard from headquarters in the days after the storm, winds of 75 knots were forecasted but Anthem actually encountered gales of twice that velocity.
“The storm intensified very rapidly,” Davidson told a group of journalists on one of the Journey’s first cruises after an extensive drydock. But, he added, at no time was the ship in danger or unsafe.
The storm, off the coast of North Carolina, battered cabins and public areas and frightened guests. After assessing the damage and the likelihood that further bad weather was waiting as the ship continued on its planned itinerary, Royal Caribbean decided to abort the cruise and return to Anthem’s homeport.
Davidson said captains consult a variety of standard weather sources used by mariners, such as Passageweather.com, to decide how to proceed when storm conditions threaten.
Decisions are made in consultation with weather experts at the Miami headquarters of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the parent of both Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises.
In the case of the Carolina storm, Davidson said it was several hundred miles wide so it was not possible to simply go around it, as he said some Internet commenters had suggested.
However, he said that Anthem’s captain did make a course adjustment intended to take it more toward the edge of the storm.