Passengers Injured as Norwegian Escape Hit by ‘100 Knot Wind Gust’ Off U.S. East Coast

Several passengers aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Escape were reported injured after a freak gust of wind reportedly caused the ship to list as much of 45 degrees, causing chairs, tables and pretty much anything unsecured to go flying.

A statement from Norwegian posted to its Twitter account said the incident took place just before midnight on Sunday, March 3, when Norwegian Escape encountered what the cruise line said was an “unexpected weather in the form of a sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots,” or 115 mph, as the ship was underway off the U.S. east coast.

“Several injuries were reported and those guests and crew received immediate attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff. There was no damage to the ship; she remains fully operational and continues her scheduled itinerary,” Norwegian Cruise Line said.

The Norwegian Escape is currently on a voyage from Port Elizabeth, New Jersey to the Bahamas with a stopover in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Media reports say at least eight passengers were treated for injuries when the ship arrived in Port Canaveral on Tuesday.

“Neither the current itinerary nor the next sailing is expected to be impacted,” the cruise line said.

Meteorologists had forecasted some weather but nothing near the 100 knots that was reported by the cruise line.

Delivered in 2015, the 164,600 gross ton Norwegian Escape is the former flagship of the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet and the first of the company’s Breakaway Plus-class.

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Anthem of the Seas Cruise Cut Short to Avoid Storm

Anthem Of The Seas Cruise Ship

Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean isn’t taking any chances when it comes to weather following its nightmare cruise into a hurricane force storm earlier this month, cutting Anthem of the Seas’ latest voyage short to avoid a storm off the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

The cruise ship giant said Saturday that it was closely watching a “large storm” off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, making the decision to head back to its homeport in Cape Liberty, New Jersey immediately to avoid the storm and provide guests “with a comfortable journey back home”. An update on Monday said Captain was following the company’s new storm avoidance policy and that the decision was made after the Captain consulted with shore side experts.

RCLcorp ‎@RCLcorp

#AnthemoftheSeas will head back to Cape Liberty immediately to avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home.

As you’ll recall, Royal Caribbean found itself in some hot water earlier this month after the Anthem of the Seas with more than 6,000 people on board sailed into the a hurricane-force storm off the Cape Hatteras that damaged part of the ship’s propulsion and left passengers shaken as they took to social media to post about the nightmare conditions.

Royal Caribbean has insisted that the storm in that case was worse than forecasted, but nonetheless the company said it identified gaps in its planning system that would be addressed to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. Within days of the event, Royal Caribbean made moves to strengthen its storm avoidance policy, supposedly adding shoreside resources at its Miami headquarters to provide additional guidance to our ships’ captains.

But looking at marine charts from this past Saturday, it seems Royal Caribbean’s decision to cut the latest cruise short may have been out of an abundance of caution or perhaps to avoid the inevitable bad publicity that would come with any Royal Caribbean ship sailing in any storm at the moment.

NWS OPC Saturday Night Forecast
NWS OPC 24 hour forecast issued Saturday night. 

A 24 hour forecast chart issued Saturday night by the National Weather Services Ocean Prediction Center predicted a relatively modest 993 mb low over the Great Lakes moving ENE with gale force conditions forecast off the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast by Sunday evening.

“What Storm? The low moving across the Great Lakes was forecast to produce near gale to gale conditions from Hatteras northward (mostly 30-40 knots). Might be a bit rough but hardly storm conditions,” marine meteorologist and ship routing expert with Ocean Weather Services, Fred Pickhardt, commented to gCaptain.

In other Anthem of the Seas news, Royal Caribbean said Monday that about 10 guests per day were reporting symptoms of norovirus during the cruise, but the company insists that the outbreak didn’t impact the decision to return to port early.

U.S. senator calls for probe of storm damage to Anthem of the Seas

MIAMI (AP) — Federal transportation officials might soon be looking into a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that ran into high winds and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend.

Sen. Bill Nelson has called for the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the voyage that forced frightened passengers into their cabins overnight Sunday as their belongings flew about, waves rose as high as 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.

Royal Caribbean announced Monday that the ship was turning around and sailing back to its home port in New Jersey. No injuries were reported, and the ship suffered only minor damage.

“I was shaking all over,” passenger Shara Strand of New York City wrote to The Associated Press via Facebook on Monday. “Panic attack, things like that. … I’ve been on over 20 cruises, I’ve been through a hurricane, it was never like this. Never.”

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Lairson says she and her father, Sam, could feel the ship, Anthem of the Seas, begin to sway by 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The captain directed passengers to their cabins. There, the Lairsons heard glasses shatter in the bathroom, and they put their belongings in drawers and closets to prevent them from flying across the room. They ventured to the balcony, where Sam Lairson shot video of wave after wave rising below.

“The winds were so strong that I thought the phone would blow from my hands,” Sam Lairson, of Ocean City, New Jersey, said in an email. “After that we had to keep the doors to the balconies sealed.”

The ship — with more than 4,500 guests and 1,600 crew members — sailed Saturday from Cape Liberty, New Jersey. It was scheduled to arrive for a stop at Port Canaveral, Florida, at noon Monday, then move on to other stops in the Caribbean. But 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.

Guests will get a full refund and a certificate toward a future cruise. Passengers onboard buzzed happily about that news, Strand said.

Gabriella Lairson said that by early Monday morning, people were out and about on the ship, checking out the minor damage in some public areas.

Lairson praised the crew and captain. “They did everything they could to make us feel comfortable,” she wrote to the AP on Facebook. She said she and her father were a little disappointed the ship was turning around, but she called it “the best thing for the safety of everyone.”

Fellow passenger Jacob Ibrag agreed. “I can’t wait to get home and kiss the ground,” said Ibrag, who saw water flowing down stairs and helped some people who were stuck in an elevator Sunday as he made his way to his cabin per the captain’s orders. The 25-year-old from Queens, New York, then stayed in his cabin until noon Monday, at one point filling his backpack with essentials in case of an evacuation.

Robert Huschka, the executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, was onboard and started tweeting when the inclement weather hit. He told USA Today that the ordeal was “truly terrifying.” He described the cruise director nervously giving updates, and he later posted photos of shattered glass panels on a pool deck.

But Huschka was among passengers who found a silver lining in the storm. On Monday, he posted: “The good news? They never lost the Super Bowl signal. Perfect TV picture throughout storm!”

Royal Caribbean gave guests free Internet access and a complimentary cocktail hour, spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in an email. “Feeling better after the happy hour they just put on for the guests,” Sam Lairson joked.

And despite her own worries, Strand said her daughter, 8-month-old Alexa, slept through the entire episode.