Norwegian Breakaway cruise sails directly into East Coast winter storm, passengers traumatized
The Norwegian Breakaway cruise left the Bahamas Tuesday with about 4,000 people on board and entered into a fierce winter storm that battered the East Coast.
Thousands of passengers ended up in a cruise ship nightmare when they were heading to New York from a Bahamas vacation, sailing right into a fierce winter storm that impacted the East Coast.
CBS New York reported that for the 21 members of the Ross family of Stony Brook, it was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.
Cruising on the Norwegian Breakaway, the family went to the Bahamas to celebrate the patriarch's 80th birthday, but while returning, they entered into a dreadful nightmare.
Speaking exclusively with CBS New York, Karoline Ross said, "I thought I'd never be in a situation where I would say that's the scariest moment of my life. This was the worst moment of my life."
While she and Del Ross were en route to New York, they said that their passenger cruise ship sailed into the storm for two harrowing days amidst ocean swells which went up to 30 feet.
"When you're on a boat in the middle of the ocean and water is pouring down the stairs, you're thinking 'this is not going to end well," Karoline said.
"Our room was full on two inches of water. The elevator shafts were dripping water everywhere," Del said.
Frightened passengers described panic and seasickness on social media as their ship began leaking with water pouring from the ceiling. Many of them hurried to the ship's atrium to catch sleep.
"There were people crying, everyone was throwing up. it was a nightmare," said Olivia Ross. "It was so tilted I was shaking."
Showers were exploding and there were bits of broken glass everywhere, according to the family.
"I'm completely traumatized. I'll never go on any type of boat again in my life after this," fellow passenger Emma Franzese told CBS New York once the ship docked.
"I was holding on for dear life. I honestly wasn't sure we were going to make it through the night. The boat was tilted like crazy," said passenger Conor Vogt.
"Everything fell off our shelf, glasses broke in the middle of the night. There was no announcement made," passenger Luisa Franzese said.
Questioning the decision to sail back to New York in the middle of a forecasted coastal storm, CBS New York asked the Norwegian Cruise line about their callousness.
Initially, the cruise line released a statement apologizing travelers that were delayed for the ship's next trip, while being mum about the predicament of those were distressed in the storm:
"Due to winter storm Grayson, Norwegian Breakaway will have a delayed arrival into New York today. As a result, Norwegian Breakaway's 14 day cruise that was originally scheduled to depart on January 5, will now depart on Saturday, January 6, at 3 p.m. Due to the ship's late arrival today, and the ongoing weather situation, embarking guests are encouraged to arrive to the pier on Saturday morning. All guests must be onboard by 1 p.m. on January 6. Guests unable to adjust their travel are welcome to board on Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The ship will now sail a slightly adjusted itinerary, which will be communicated to guests onboard. All guests will receive a refund of one day of their cruise fare, in the form of an onboard credit. We sincerely thank our guests for their understanding of this unexpected change due to the weather and apologize to our guests for any disruption to their schedule," the statement said.
However, the cruise line released a second statement:
"During the early morning hours of January 4, Norwegian Breakaway encountered stronger than forecasted weather conditions due to winter storm Grayson during the trip's return to New York from the Bahamas. All guests and crew are safe. We sincerely apologize to our guests for these stronger than expected weather conditions and any resulting discomfort they may have experienced."
"The captain should've told us a little more. He kept saying, 'we're in rough seas.' Well, no crap we're in rough seas," passenger Brenda Wriedt said.
Praising the crew, Elizabeth Vogt of the Upper East Side said, "Some of them were scared, but they put on a really happy face."
But she added the ordeal was terrifying. "I flew across the room, landed in the bathroom, and then I got up, I got into my bed and said a prayer. That's how I felt that night."
The Ross family asserted at the time that they would be asking for a refund for the nine staterooms they had booked. However, they said that more than anything, they want answers from the cruise company.
"He took all our lives in his hands, and we were really in a bad spot. It was really horrible," Karoline said.
"It's more about revenue. It wasn't so much about safety," said Del. "We were dead center of the storm, and I really think it was a poor decision."
"If they knew the storm was coming in, they should've already just taken us back. We'd rather get home a day early than have to go through something like this," fellow passenger Barbara Stevenson-Felder said.
The Breakaway was supposed to embark on another journey from the West Side on January 5th, but instead left on 6th.