By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEWARK, NJ, Thurs. Feb. 11, 2016: The Royal Caribbean ship which ran into 120-mph winds hurricane-force winds and waves on Sunday as it sailed to the Bahamas, returned to New Jersey last night even as a U.S. senator called for a federal investigation.
Royal Caribbean’s 168,666-ton Anthem of the Seas. returned to Cape Liberty, NJ last evening, according to a Royal Caribbean statement yesterday as Sen. Bill Nelson 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 National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement released Tuesday that the investigation will include a weather group that is investigating TOTE Maritime’s decision-making processes regarding vessel operations in hurricanes and other heavy weather occurrences.
“The Anthem of the Seas incident may provide us an additional opportunity to learn best practices that cruise line operators employ for operating in heavy weather,” the NTSB said.
“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.
Royal Caribbean for its part said it is “grateful for the safe return of our guests and crew.”
“We apologize for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through,” a company statement added.
The statement added that the out of the more than 6,000 people on board, only four minor injuries were reported but it will refund all guests while strengthening its storm avoidance policy.
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. 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.