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.

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#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. Coast Guard: Anthem of the Seas Azipod Damaged in Storm

Photo credit: CANARYLUC / Shutterstock.com

Anthem of the Seas

One of two diesel-electric azipod units used to propel Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas sustained damage as the ship battled an intense hurricane-force storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on Sunday.

The storm-damaged cruise ship returned to the Liberty Cruise Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey on Wednesday evening and as crews continue to test the critical systems onboard the vessel while in port.

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bahamas Maritime Administration, and other organizations have been working closely with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and technical specialists to ensure the ongoing repairs to the ship’s equipment are functioning as designed, the Coast Guard said Friday.

While damage from the storm has been reported as mostly cosmetic, the Coast Guard said Friday that the cruise ship’s port azipod unit, which is one component of the vessel’s propulsion system, burned out all four clutches and as a precaution had to be shut down for ship’s the return voyage to Bayonne.

Technicians aboard the cruise ship are replacing the clutches on both the starboard and port azipods as a precaution. Repairs and subsequent testing of the azipods are still ongoing.

Related Video: The Azipods Used to Power the World’s Largest Cruise Ships

All critical safety and lifesaving systems are also being tested under the supervision of the Bahamas and the U.S. Coast Guard officials to ensure that all equipment is functioning as designed prior to departing on its next voyage, which as of now is still expected for this Saturday.

Minor damage to the ship’s lifeboats is being addressed and thoroughly tested by the lifeboat manufacturer, the Coast Guard says.

“At this time all repairs appear to be on track and all systems tests are progressing satisfactorily,” according to the Coast Guard. “However, if anything is discovered during testing, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port will not allow the ship to sail from Bayonne until both Coast Guard and Bahamas Maritime Authorities are satisfied. The vessel will not be cleared to leave the port until all safety of life at sea requirements are met.”

As gCaptain has reported, the Coast Guard is supporting the Bahamas Maritime Administration in an ongoing investigation that will help determine if there are any contributing causal factors or lessons learned from the incident that could help prevent injuries or damage in the future.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas departed Bayonne, New Jersey last Saturday carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew on what was scheduled to be a 7-day roundtrip to the Bahamas. But by Sunday afternoon, the ship had sailed directly into the path of an rapidly-developing storm off Cape Hatteras, with 75 m.p.h winds and waves greater than 30 feet.

Coast Guard officials conducting the investigation are being assisted by personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board, according to the Coast Guard. The ongoing investigation could take some time but should not delay the vessel’s scheduled departure.

Royal Caribbean’s two Quantum-class ships, the Quantum of the Seas and the Anthem of the Seas, are fitted with two 20.5-megawatt ABB Azipod XO2300 propulsion units.

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.