120+ mph winds in storm off NC coast causes injuries on cruise ship, damage reported

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A Royal Caribbean cruise ship ran into winds as high as 122 mph and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean, with some injuries reported to passengers and damage to the ship.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement Monday that the ship Anthem of the Seas was damaged in some public areas and guest staterooms.

Twitter image from @flatgreg
Twitter image from @flatgreg

Royal Caribbean didn’t describe the damages but says the ship is safe to be at sea — although the ship is now headed back to its main port in New Jersey.

Of more than 4,000 passengers, four passengers were injured during the event, though none seriously, spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told USA Today.

A buoy in the Atlantic about 260 miles south of Cape Hatteras reported wave heights of 30 feet and wind gusts of 74 mph late Sunday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A screen shot posted by a passenger on Twitter of a wind gauge displayed on Anthem cabin TVs indicated wind speeds at the equivalent of 122 mph.

The ship at that point appeared to be southeast of Wilmington.

Jacob Ibrag of Queens, New York, said via Skype Monday he saw water flowing down staircases and people trapped in an elevator.

Ibrag said that he felt waves rocking the ship Anthem of the Seas on Sunday afternoon as he grabbed food on a top deck. He shot some video, then went to his cabin – but he first stopped to help some passengers climb out of an elevator that had stopped between floors.

Passenger Gabriella Lairson said via Facebook on Monday that the storm started about 3 p.m. Sunday. She says the captain of the Royal Caribbean ship Anthem of the Seas instructed everyone to go to their staterooms.

Sixteen-year-old Lairson and her father, of Ocean City, NJ, heard glasses in their bathroom shatter, and they put belongings in drawers and closets to prevent them from flying across the room.

Video that her father, Sam Lairson, shot shows wave after wave rising outside the balcony.

He says in an email, “The winds were so strong that I thought the phone would blow from my hands.”  Royal Carribbean said on Twitter that guests will get a full refund and 50 percent off a future cruise.

The ship was headed to Port Canaveral, Florida.

— The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report

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