A passenger on the luxury cruise ship Anthem of the Seas says he was knocked unconscious after the ship sailed into a massive storm and has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence.
The suit, filed by Bruce J. Simpson in federal court in Miami, claims Royal Caribbean knowingly sailed into a massive low pressure system that formed off the Carolinas this month, putting passengers and crew members in “serious risk.”
The 1,141-foot ship, which can carry 4,900 guests, was tossed in hurricane-force winds as high as 100 mph during the storm. Passengers were ordered to their rooms on Feb. 7 while the captain tried to negotiate the worsening storm.
Royal Caribbean could not immediately be reached for comment, but previously said the storm was called “unexpected” with wind speeds “higher than what was forecast.”
Simpson said he was hanging onto the bed in his room as the ship “pitched back and forth, sometimes tipping at a 45-degree angle.
When Simpson let go of the bed to use the bathroom, he said the ship “pitched violently, flinging him nearly 18 feet, from the edge of the bed, head first into the exit door of his room.”
“He was hurled across the room with such force, that he was knocked unconscious,” according to the lawsuit.
Meteorologists balked at the idea the storm was not predicted. According to National Weather Service spokeswoman Susan Buchanan, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Prediction Center was alerting to a strong storm four days in advance of its formation and issued a graphical alert Friday at 1 p.m. for “developing hurricane-force winds.”
From passenger photos, damage to the ship appeared to be mostly minor with furniture tossed around and broken décor. Anthem of the Seas took its maiden voyage less than a year ago, and remained “seaworthy at all times” according to the company. Four people reported minor injuries.
But Simpson’s complaint says that the medical office on the ship was overwhelmed with people.
“Some people were in wheelchairs and other had their arms in slights,” the lawsuit states.
Robert Huschka, the executive editor of the Detroit Free Press who was on the ship, told USA Today at the time that even the captain had been shaken by the trip: “The captain told everyone this morning that the day was among his most challenging — if not his most challenging — at sea.”
“I’m not going to lie,” Huschka added. “It was truly terrifying.”