Royal Caribbean’s luxury liner Anthem of the Seas is headed back to port for a second time this month after concerns over possible turbulent weather.
A post on Royal Caribbean’s Twitter account announced the turnaround yesterday, saying the ship was returning to Cape Liberty, N.J., immediately “to avoid a severe storm and provide guests with a comfortable journey back.”
The 1,141-foot ship, which can carry 4,900 guests, sailed into a hurricane-strength low pressure system with 100 mph winds on Feb. 7 and has since faced criticism about its decision to continue into the severe weather.
At least one passenger who claims he was injured during the Feb. 7 event has sued Royal Caribbean for negligence.
“Based on the most recent weather forecast, if Anthem of the Seas continues on its regular scheduled itinerary, the ship would encounter the brunt of the large and powerful storm on the return to Cape Liberty,” the company said in a statement issued today. “On a recent sailing, Anthem of the Seas experienced bad weather that was much worse than forecast; therefore, we want to be extra cautious about our guest’s safety and comfort when it comes to weather in the area.”
Royal Caribbean will provide each guest with credit in the amount of two days of the cruise fare paid for the Feb. 21 sailing. It will be applied directly to their on board account and may be used for any on board purchase or service, according to today’s statement.
A 48-hour forecast from the Ocean Prediction Center shows a developing gale off the coast of the Carolinas.
The lawsuit filed by former passenger Bruce J. Simpson in federal court in Miami claims Royal Caribbean knowingly sailed into a massive low pressure system that formed off the Carolinas earlier this month, putting passengers and crew members in “serious risk.”
“We believe Royal Caribbean was under financial pressure to start the cruise on time,” said Simpson’s attorney Jason Itkin in a statement. “They took a calculated risk taking passengers into the storm, and we don’t think the passengers should be the ones that pay for Royal Caribbean’s lack of judgement.”
Itkin’s firm, Houston-based Arnold and Itkin, is also representing families of sailors who died when the cargo ship El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin.
“As we file this lawsuit, a Marine Board hearing in Jacksonville is under way with the goal of discovering why 33 mariners perished when the cargo ship El Faro foundered during Hurricane Joaquin,” Itkin said. “It suggests an alarming trend of ship operators risking lives in order to maintain tight schedules and guard profits.”