(NEW YORK) — Passengers who were on board the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas cruise ship are back on solid ground.
Passenger Peter Aloupis said it felt “exactly” like being in a washing machine when the ship started listing, or tilting, because of the intense winds and turbulent weather.
“We were on the third floor with an ocean view and we literally saw Dory swimming by,” Aloupis said Thursday, referencing the Disney cartoon character.
The Bahamas-bound ship had to turn around and return to New Jersey two days after setting sail because of strong storms off the Carolinas. The ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Wednesday night.
Aloupis told Good Morning America that he has cruised “many times.” He said he “saw some of the staff hugging and crying” after the ship returned to New Jersey.
Another passenger, Lauren Whitney, said that she had a panic attack after being told by cruise staff that passengers were to stay in their cabins.
“We were probably in the room for 20 minutes if that and then we left,” she said. “I couldn’t do it and the crew members were even telling us, ‘Get back to the room,’ and I said, ‘No. I’m not going back.'”
At one point, the captain reportedly made an announcement on the ship’s loudspeaker, urging passengers to get back in their rooms.
“He didn’t sound very convincing that it was going to be okay, and everyone around us started crying, saying they couldn’t breathe,” Whitney said.
In spite of the harrowing ordeal, all but one of the seven passengers on Good Morning America said that they would be open to going on another cruise.
Royal Caribbean has apologized to the more than 6,000 passengers who were on board.
“The event, exceptional as it was, identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing,” the company said in a statement. “Though that system has performed well through many instances of severe weather around the world, what happened this week showed that we need to do better.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is considering an investigation into what happened and why the ship hit such bad weather.
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