Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rocked by Hurricane-Force Winds Heads Back to New Jersey

The ship is turning back and sailing to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ.

ByABC News
February 8, 2016, 3:57 PM

— -- A Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by hurricane-force winds overnight is sailing back to port in Bayonne, New Jersey.

The decision to change course came after the Anthem of the Seas experienced turbulent weather overnight off the coast of the Carolinas. The ship was headed to the Bahamas.

Furniture tumbled over, ceilings fell down and table-top objects crashed to the floor as 40-foot waves battered the ship. No one was seriously injured.

Buoy data collected near the path of the ship recorded wind gusts up to 76 miles per hour.

About 4,000 people were ordered to stay in their cabins.

Some passengers reported the ship was tilting (or "listing") at 45 degrees.

The ship left from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas. The ship was originally scheduled to dock in Port Canaveral, Florida, around noon today.

"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 said in a statement this afternoon.

"Safety is our highest priority and ships are designed to withstand even more extreme circumstances than Anthem of the Seas encountered," the statement said.

The company posted a message on Twitter saying that all guests are “safe and accounted for” and the ship will be arriving back in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Earlier today, Royal Caribbean noted that the ship’s seaworthiness had not been affected in spite of the "extreme wind and sea conditions" which included "wind speeds higher than what was forecasted."

"In an abundance of caution, the Captain asked all guests to stay in their stateroom until the weather improved," the company said in a statement. "At this time there have not been any serious injuries reported."

The U.S. Coast Guard was also aware of the incident and said it would "continue to monitor the situation."

"After seeing pictures and people’s comments on Twitter and other social media platforms, the USCG contacted the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas to check in,” spokesman Mark Barney said. “The ship said that everything was fine, and no distress calls have been issued.

"The ship was caught in the storm off the shore of Charleston," Barney said.

It appeared that the worst of the storm was over by morning. One passenger tweeted a picture showing the kitchen staff at their posts, feeding people as they came out of their cabins.