Royal Caribbean International's Anthem of the Seas sailed rough weather off the coast of North Carolina, for about 12 hours, on Sunday en route to the Bahamas. The ship's captain ordered guests to stay in their accommodations.
How bad was the weather? The National Weather Service reported hurricane-force winds of more than 100 mph. Waves were also at least 30 feet tall.
Royal Caribbean issued this updated statement at noon today:
"Anthem of the Seas will turn around and sail back to Cape Liberty, NJ. This decision was made due to weather forecasted for the next few days that is likely to impact the ship’s original itinerary.
"We are also sensitive to the fact that our guests have already been through an uncomfortable ride. Returning to Cape Liberty minimizes the risks of further bad weather affecting our guests’ voyage; we are optimistic that they will have a smooth sail home.
"We appreciate the patience and cooperation of our guests. We know it was tough day on Sunday and apologize for their discomfort. We also thank our captain and crew for guiding the ship safely back to better weather.
"Royal Caribbean International will provide each guest with full refund of the fare paid for their cruise. We will also provide each guest with a future cruise certificate for 50 percent of the cruise fare paid.
"Safety is our highest priority and ships are designed to withstand even more extreme circumstances than Anthem of the Seas encountered. While the weather was unpleasant, the ship remained seaworthy at all times."
That said, some media outlets including one major South Florida television station expressed frustration at what they thought were initial reports to downplay the damage, particularly as videos and comments posted by guests on the Internet and social media showed a different situation.
According to Cruise Law News, Eric Elwell, chief meterologist for a Dayton/Springfield, OH, television meteorogist, on the ship, posted photos of what's being described by those onboard as extensive damage. ABC News reported that after seeing the photos and comments on social media, the United States Coast Guard checked in with the ship to assure all was okay.