Storm-battered Anthem of the Seas cruise ship returns to port

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The Anthem of the Seas crept into the port Wednesday night at Bayonne's Cape Liberty in New Jersey. (WPVI)

The Anthem of the Seas crept into the port Wednesday night at Bayonne's Cape Liberty in New Jersey.

The ship was carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members when it departed Saturday on a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas. But the 1,141-foot vessel sailed into a major winter storm on Sunday.

Powerful winds and waves as high as 30 feet tossed the vessel around. Royal Caribbean says four passengers reported minor injuries and the ship sustained some damage to its public areas and staterooms.

"I've never feared for my life before, and that was pretty rough of a night," said Robert Taubenslag of Parsippany, New Jersey. "It was extremely scary."

On board Collegeville, Pennsylvania, resident Venus McHugh took a picture of her family at the head of the long line waiting to get off when the doors opened at 9 p.m.

"It's been torture. We need a vacation from a supposed vacation," said McHugh.

"A nightmare, a nightmare from hell. It was terrible. It was my first cruise and it was horrible, but we made it. We're alive," said Christina McHugh of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Venus McHugh tells us she planned the family trip that was also a surprise for her aunt's 50th birthday.

When asked if he thought he may not make it off the ship, Austin Cookson of Levittown, Pennsylvania, said, "Yeah, I really think the captain might have thought that a few times, too. He wasn't very reassuring in his announcements."

Other passengers were pleased with the service provided by the crew members on board in the midst of the storm.

"They did a great job, they took care of us, hospitable," one passenger told us. "The crew was great. I mean they did an amazing job."

When asked if she would go back, Sara Neukirchner of Bayonne said "It'll be a while. It'll be a long while."

A team of Coast Guard inspectors will determine the extent of damage.

Passengers will get a full refund and a certificate toward 50 percent off a future cruise.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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