(7 p.m. EST) — With a storm brewing on the East Coast, Royal Caribbean ended a cruise onboard Anthem of the Seas early and is sending the ship back to its homeport of Cape Liberty ahead of schedule.
According to the company’s corporate Twitter account, “Anthem of the Seas will head back to Cape Liberty immediately to avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home.”
#AnthemoftheSeas will head back to Cape Liberty immediately to avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home.
— RCLcorp (@RCLcorp) February 27, 2016
A second tweet on the account Saturday night stated that the company was concerned about a storm developing off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. “We want to be extra cautious when it comes to weather in that area,” the tweet stated.
Anthem of the Seas left Cape Liberty in New Jersey on Sunday, for a scheduled 13-day voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. Cruise Critic forum member lazeyey, who says she is onboard, posted that an announcement was made that the ship would turn around immediately, skipping scheduled port stops in Barbados and St. Kitts. Originally scheduled to return March 4, the ship now will return March 2.
According to the thread, Royal Caribbean is refunding money for the two days passengers will miss and offering 50 percent off a future cruise.
Cruise Critic has reached out to Royal Caribbean for more information.
Anthem of the Seas encountered a major storm off the coast of North Carolina on February 7, when the 4,180-passenger ship sailed through 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves. Four people suffered injuries classified as “minor.” The ship sustained mostly cosmetic damage from the storm, though its propulsion system also was damaged. The remainder of that sailing was canceled, and passengers were returned home early. Royal Caribbean offered a full refund for that cruise as well as 50 percent off a future cruise. The line fixed the damage — and the Coast Guard cleared the ship for sailing — before it set sail on its next scheduled cruise.
Royal Caribbean faced criticism for sailing into the early February storm, most notably from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), who called for the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate.
After Anthem of the Seas returned to New Jersey, Royal Caribbean announced it would strengthen its storm avoidance policy and add resources in Miami, where the company is headquartered, to assist captains onboard ships in making decisions.
“We apologize for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through,” the line said in a statement at the time. “The event, exceptional as it was, identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing.”