Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Anthem of the Sea embarked from Bayonne, New Jersey on February 6, 2016 with 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew aboard, for a seven-day cruise to Florida and the Caribbean.
At the time there were National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center warnings issued for Hurricane Hermine in the Atlantic ocean. We followed this hurricane live in real time, as we do all tropical storms and hurricanes on our Cruise Ship Weather website.
One passenger posted an incredible video on Youtube from his third deck cabin, showing it being plunged into repeated darkness as the waves rise, covering his cabin window. (see video at the bottom of this post) “Anthem Of The Seas Vs huge waves and 120 mph winds. Viewed from my room on the third floor.”
Cruise passenger Frank Deluca from New Jersey filed a lawsuit on February 25, 2017. The lawsuit seeks class action status and alleges in the complaint, which we downloaded from the court website, the following:
- “This Class Action lawsuit deals with Defendant RCCL’s knowing and intentional decision to sail the Anthem of the Seas, carrying more than 4,000 paying passengers, directly into the path of a Hurricane. More than 4,000 passengers were subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane force winds and more than 30 foot waves. This terror was amplified by the recent El Faro tragedy, wherein a cargo ship knowingly sailed into a hurricane and 33 crew members all perished. Just months after one of the worst maritime tragedies in recent history, Defendant RCCL’s knowing, intentional and reckless conduct subjects RCCL to the imposition of punitive damages.
- Remarkably, the two prior sailings of the Anthem of the Seas were delayed by as much as a day, due to bad weather. Nonetheless, prior to setting sail on Saturday February 6, 2016, there were numerous forecasts which predicted the storm which the Anthem of the Seas encountered.At approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean Prediction Center first headlined the possibility of storm forced winds for Sunday, February 7, along the eastern coast near Cape Hatteras, NC. The NOAA indicated that winds would increase from 35-50 knot during the day to 40-55 knots Sunday night. The NOAA also forecasted seas to increase from 12-20 feet during the day to 15-28 feet Sunday night.
- At approximately 4:20 p.m. on Friday, February 5, 2016, the NOAA issued a storm warning for Sunday, February 7, with winds of 30-55 knots during the day, increasing to 40-55 knots Sunday night. The NOAA also forecasted seas at 11-18 feet during the day and seas at 18-25 feet during the night.
- The subject vessel left for its voyage at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday February 6, 2016.Concurrent with embarkation, at approximately 3:34 p.m. on Saturday, February 6, 2016, NOAA upgraded the storm warning to a Hurricane Force Wind Warning. The NOAA was forecasting winds of 65 knots and 30 foot seas for Sunday, February 7.
- RCCL knew or should have known of these hurricane force wind warnings, but none the less, the Anthem of the Seas left the Cape Liberty Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on February 6, 2016, intending to sail to the Bahamas, carrying more than 4,000 paying passengers.
- As the vessel was leaving Port, Captain Claus Andersen informed the passengers that there was a weather system building along the east coast and he intended to outrun the growing storm.In other words, RCCL was knowingly sailing directly towards a quickly intensifying hurricane.
- As predicted, by 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, February 7, 2016, the hurricane-force winds and rough seas were battering the vessel so severely that Captain ordered all passengers to be confined in their staterooms until further notice.
- While confined to their staterooms for approximately twelve hours, passengers were holding onto their beds and/or whatever they could find in order to keep from falling due to the severe crashing of waves and listing of the vessel. Furniture was overturned and tossed through out the vessel; broken glass littered all levels of the vessel; a portion of the ceiling collapsed; elevators became inoperable; waves crashed through open and/or shattered balcony doors; and water rushed in through numerous other areas of the vessel.
- Waves were crashing over the top of the lifeboats tethered along the side of the Anthem of the Seas as the ship listed heavily to either side. At times the vessel listed (tilted) as far as 45 degrees and the passengers were violently thrown across their cabins.
- Passengers scrambled to search for life jackets or flotation devices but were unable to do so. There were numerous families with small children aboard the vessel and parents did their best to protect themselves and their young children who were crying uncontrollably and screaming in sheer terror. These are examples of the extensive damage done to the vessel in the storm:
On Monday, February 8, 2016, RCCL decided to turn the Anthem of the Seas around and head back to New Jersey.”
Video: Anthem of the Sea in Hurricane Hermine