Drive American

Published on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Royal Caribbean accused of negligence as passenger tells of storm horror


A passenger trapped onboard Royal Caribbean's Athem of the Seas as it sailed into a powerful storm has described the extent of the damage, while a meteorologist has criticized the cruiseline for allowing the trip to go ahead.

Phil Partridge, marketing manager of Rhino Car Hire, who is on the eight-day cruise from New Jersey to the Bahamas with his wife and two young daughters, said the 4,529 passengers were told to return to their cabins at 3pm and they were forced to stay there for 18 hours as the storm raged over the Atlantic.

When they emerged the following morning, they found a catalogue of damage, including collapsed ceilings, smashed glass over the top deck, cabin balcony screens ripped away from their fixings, damaged furniture and luxury watches and jewellery from display cabinets scattered.


Glass panel over pool smashed


At least six of the 24 lifts were out of service, presumed damaged, he said.


Writing on his Rhino Car Hire blog, Partridge said the captain had described the time as his 'worst day at sea'.


"A further statement from the Captain followed, that the damage sustained in the storm had in no way affected the seaworthiness of the ship, however it's clear to everyone on board, that significant repairs will be required before the ship sets sail again," wrote Partridge.


He said Royal Caribbean had announced full refunds for all passengers plus a 50% discount on a future cruise after Anthem was forced to cancel the rest of its trip and turn back to New York.


However, Partridge said the experience had been enough to put his family of first-time cruisers off another holiday at sea. "Holidaying on firmer ground seems very attractive as I write," he said.


Meanwhile a meteorologist has slammed Royal Caribbean for allowing the ship to sail into the path of the storm.


Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics said he found it hard to believe the cruise line was unaware of the severity of the storm after the National Weather Service in the US posted advisories several days earlier.


The cruiseline said four passengers sustained injuries.  "We appreciate our guests' patience and cooperation. We know it was tough day on Sunday and apologize for their discomfort," Royal Caribbean said in a statement.


It confirmed all passengers will get a full refund and 50% off a future cruise after it made the decision to cut short the cruise.


Maue earlier posted on Twitter: "Sailing a billion dollar boat with 4,000 passengers into a well-forecast hurricane-force cyclone is negligent and Royal Caribbean should admit it."


"The storm was well forecast by many different weather models from every agency. This was not a surprise to anyone watching the weather on a daily basis," Maue said, as reported by


"The impacts were the same or worse than a Category 1 hurricane at sea. Waves of 30-feet-plus and wind gusts above 80 knots were experienced over a very large area." 


"This situation is no different in practice to purposely sailing a vessel into the path of a rapidly developing Category 1 or 2 hurricane," Maue added.


US senator Bill Nelson yesterday called for an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board to ascertain why the ship sailed directly into the storm.

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