The Anthem of the Seas has suffered damage to one of its Azipods, according to Royal Caribbean Cruises, which cited Coast Guard findings. The Coast Guard reportedly found that the left Azipod became inoperable during the storm the ship last Sunday. Despite conflicting reports that the Anthem must be repaired before it can sail, Royal Caribbean said on its website today that the Saturday, Feb. 13 cruise will depart as planned. The ship can sail and maneuver with its remaining pod.
Royal Caribbean insisted that the damage was cosmetic before the Coast Guard issued its findings. The cosmetic damage included broken glass, furniture and water damage.
Many passengers have described their experience as scary and that they were afraid the ship would sink. According to the Coast Guard, the Anthem was never in danger of sinking, and the captain and the crew were praised for acting in a professional and capable manner.
Sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, last Saturday, the Anthem hit a storm on Sunday with 120 mph winds and 40 foot waves off the coast of North Carolina. Nearly 5,000 passengers were told to remain in their cabins for the duration of the 10-hour storm.
After the storm, instead of continuing on its seven-day cruise, the Anthem turned around and returned to Cape Liberty on Wednesday.
According to weather sources, storm warnings had been issued for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean during the week, days before the ship headed into the path of the storm. Royal Caribbean said that the forecast was for winds in the range of 55 to 65 mph, not sustained winds of more than 120 mph.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) has called on the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate why the ship sailed into the storm despite the weather forecasts.
Royal Caribbean also issued a statement that the incident identified gaps in its planning system that will be addressed.
Passengers aboard the Anthem received a full refund of their aborted cruise and 50 percent off a future cruise.