At least eight passengers required emergency medical attention, while dozens more were injured aboard Norwegian Escape after the ship was struck unexpectedly by 100-knot (185kph) winds, equivalent to a Category 3 cyclone.
Norwegian Escape was on the first night of her roundtrip cruise from New York to the Caribbean on March 3rd when the incident occurred.
Video footage shared on social media showed the pandemonium aboard as the ship listed suddenly, sending tables and chairs crashing across her public rooms.
In a statement on Twitter, Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed that the ship had been hit by a 100-knot gust of wind that caused it to develop a severe list.
“Just before midnight on Sunday, March 3, Norwegian Escape encountered unexpected weather in the form of a sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots, which resulted in the ship heeling to the port side,” the cruise line said.
“Several injuries were reported and those guests and crew received immediate attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff,” the statement added.
Several injuries were reported and those guests and crew received immediate attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff. There was no damage to the ship; she remains fully operational and continues her scheduled itinerary. (cont.)
— Cruise Norwegian (@CruiseNorwegian) March 4, 2019
Norwegian Escape made port in Port Canaveral as scheduled and departed on time for Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. She will also call in Nassau in the Bahamas before returning to New York.
In Cape Canaveral at least eight passengers requiring medical attention were disembarked. About a dozen ambulances were at the port when the ship arrived at Port Canaveral on Tuesday morning, according to WESH.
Passengers aboard the ship have described the incident as terrifying. Video footage posted to YouTube by passenger Aaron Black shows tables, chairs and passengers sliding across the lounge.
Screams, shattering glass and breaking furniture can also be heard in the footage.
Another video posted by Cruises Adventures, shows the growing unease of passengers as the list got steeper and the ship showed no signs of righting itself.
As chairs and tables begin to slide across the floor of what appears to be the ship’s atrium, passengers begin screaming. Norwegian cruise staff can be seen clinging to pillars and helping passengers stay upright.
Toward the end of the video a crew announcement is made, declaring a ‘Code Papa’ in the casino, which is a common code word on cruise ships for a pollution incident either on-board or in the sea.
As the ship righted herself, passengers were directed by crewmembers to gather amidships and asked not to use the elevators.
Aaron Black, who filmed the first video above, told CNN that the Norwegian Escape crew were “awesome” and had the ship tidied and back to normal soon after the incident.
Norwegian Escape can accommodate 4,266 passengers and is served by 1,733 crew members. She entered service in 2015, and has 20 decks and gross tonnage of 164,600.
This is not the first weather-related incident Norwegian Cruise Line has suffered sailing out of New York. In January last year, Norwegian Getaway, which is around the same size as Escape, was hit by a ‘bomb cyclone’ in the Atlantic, causing an uncomfortable ride for passengers.
In February the same year, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas was cruising from New York when it was damaged by a severe weather system with cyclone-force winds that were much higher than forecast.