HUFFINGTON POST

Passengers Documented Rocky Ride As Cruise Ship Headed Into Storm

The Feds may investigate why the ship headed into the storm despite an alert about it.

Passengers on a Royal Caribbean ship bound for Florida and the Bahamas headed home early after a powerful storm battered their liner with towering waves and high winds.

Weary travelers aboard the Anthem of the Seas shared photos and videos on social media showing overturned furniture, broken glass and cabin windows submerged by crashing waves from the storm that struck Sunday afternoon and into Monday. 

Royal Caribbean announced on Monday that "guests are safe and accounted for." The ship is expected to return to port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Wednesday rather than continue on its southern route, the company said. 

But Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wants to know why the 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members were put at risk at all. The National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Center issued a warning about the storm days before the cruise ship traveled toward it. On Tuesday, Nelson called on federal transportation officials to investigate why the ship didn't change course. 

"We will consider the senator's request," said Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The ship's captain announced to travelers that the storm's strength was unexpected, according to USA Today. Winds exceeded 120 mph at times, and waves reached 25 feet. 

Passengers were ordered to remain in their cabins for hours, and The Associated Press interviewed a traveler who rescued others trapped in an elevator stuck between floors. 

The ship swayed so much that photos showed passengers appearing to stand at impossible angles.  

Videos show objects sliding across furniture and around rooms.

Passengers will get a full refund and a 50 percent discount on a future trip, Royal Caribbean announced

Damage was apparent in common areas of the Anthem of the Seas, though USA Today reported it was only superficial. 

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