Hurricane-Force Winds Tilt Norwegian Escape (Photos)

Multiple injuries among passengers and crew were reported after Norwegian Escape encountered high winds Sunday night. A gust of wind estimated about 115 mph – comparable to a Category 3 hurricane — caused the ship to tilt.

“Flying Furniture and Shards of Glass”

According to a report in The Washington Post, passengers took cover under tables, “dodging flying furniture and shards of glass.” Passenger Richard Green told WFTV “Well, I was thinking the boat was going down… It felt like the boat was turning over.”

The ship’s medical staff treated passenger and crew injuries onboard. Several ambulances met the ship when it docked Tuesday at Port Canaveral, Florida.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has stated that the 4,266-passenger, 1,070-foot vessel did not sustain any damage, remaining fully operational. The ship will continue its scheduled 7-night voyage, which includes a call at the cruise line’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

A Storm Front That Battered the U.S. Could Be to Blame

Norwegian Escape’s battle with winds likely came in part from the recent weather system that hit the United States, and caused several tornadoes Georgia and Alabama. meteorologist Brian Donegan hypothesized that, “A cold front and area of low pressure associated with Winter Storm Scott pushed off the East Coast Sunday. That likely played a role in the sudden gust of wind the ship experienced.”

However, winds of hurricane magnitude were not being predicted when Norwegian Escape made its departure from Cape Liberty. Atmospheric scientist and Washington Post writer Matthew Cappucci theorized that “This gust of wind was one-and-done.” Other cruise ships departing the New York City area on Sunday did not encounter damaging winds.

Truth is, situations like this are rare — that’s why they make such big headlines. In general cruise lines take precautions to avoid any potential of bad weather. But cruise passengers should know that while cruise ships can feel like idyllic places where everything is perfect, it is still a ship at sea. The possibility of situations like this still exists.

At least one passenger onboard the ship asked Norwegian via Twitter about a possible discount following the ship’s failure to escape high winds. NCL has not yet commented publicly on whether passengers will receive some form of discount to compensate for the harrowing shipboard experience.

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