Could Your Cruise Be Heading Into a Storm?

Even with more accurate forecasts and better technology, nearly two dozen times in the last decade, cruise ships have sailed into serious storms.

More than five million passengers set sail out of Port Miami in 2018. The port lives up to the nickname of "cruise capital of the world."

But, it's not always smooth sailing on the open waters.

In early March, the Norwegian Escape navigated through winds of 110 mph and rough seas. Several passengers were injured as the ship rocked violently.

Two weeks after that incident, the Viking Sky lost propulsion in a severe storm near Norway. Hundreds of people has to be evacuated as hurricane force winds and 30-foot waves raged.

Anne Decker was on the ship with her childhood friend.

"As the water came, the wave broke into our room and suddenly we were all completely submerged in the North Sea within our restaurant," Decker recalled.

She said she saw tsunami-like waves crash into the ship.

Decker thought it was the end for her. She sent a frantic text to her husband.

"In a muster station, not good, really bad. I love you, thank you for a wonderful family and a blessed life," Decker remembered writing to her husband.

These incidents are preventable, according to maritime attorney Jim Walker.

"That ship sailed into a well forecasted storm and had a very predictable and what could've been entirely avoidable," Walker said.

Even with more accurate forecasts and better technology, nearly two dozen times in the last decade, cruise ships have sailed into serious storms.

Walker believes finance is favored over forecasts.

"The reason for sailing into those weather conditions was what? To make money. That's why cruise ships sail into those conditions," Walker said.

The ships are built to withstand inclement weather, but Walker questions what passengers should have to withstand.

"One of the things most people don't realize is that there is not enough life boats," Walker said. "So, you can imagine the weather conditions, the waves crashing into the life boats."

While you are worried about your vacation, Royal Caribbean International's says its number one priority is safety. That's where James Van Fleet comes in. He is the first full-time, on-staff meteorologist in the cruise industry.

"I know it's made a difference just in the short two plus years I've been here," Van Fleet said. "We've caught fog where before having a meteorologist in house, that wasn't the case."

It's common practice in the cruise line industry to use consultant based meteorologist for forecasting but for Royal Caribbean, it goes beyond that.

"The difference is having a scientist in house to explain it. Everybody gets the data. [But] what does it mean? How do we keep everybody safe and comfortable on their vacation," Van Fleet said.

The on-board meteorologist says he allowed to be proactive and work with the captains to ultimately avoid dangerous weather.

"I think by having someone in house who knows where it is and where to find it. We are saving everybody time and also time to make decisions sooner," Van Fleet said.

The cruise line tells us they even factor climatology in to setting routes for where you'll sail and when.

Contact Us