Talk about a rocky start.
Passengers onboard the Norwegian Escape found themselves dodging flying furniture and shards of glass while holding on for dear life as the vessel encountered high winds Sunday night.
The 1,070-foot ship had departed Cape Liberty Cruise Port across the Hudson from New York City about 3 p.m., bound for Port Canaveral, Florida, and eventually the Bahamas three days later. The weather wasn’t superb, but not overly vicious — severe storms in the Deep South and heavy snow in New England, with the Escape set to sail through a more tranquil shield of rain in between. Maximum winds of 30 to 40 mph and occasional downpours looked to be in the offing.
Nothing could have prepared passengers for what was to come.
Shortly before midnight, the ship suddenly lurched portside. An onboard video shows passengers — who moments earlier had been celebrating the first night of their cruise — forced to duck and cover, in the crosshairs of tables, chairs and cutlery that become projectiles. The ship was northeast of the Delmarva Peninsula when it happened.
“Several injuries were reported,” Norwegian wrote on Twitter. “Those guests and crew received immediate medical attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff.”
Norwegian said the ship wasn’t damaged and remains “fully operational,” with no impact to sailing or the itinerary.
The culprit for the commotion? What Norwegian described as a “sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots.” That’s 115 mph — above the threshold for a Category 3 hurricane.
“It strikes me as a freak thing,” said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey. “We’ve seen the video and it happened not too far off our coastline. But it wasn’t a hugely powerful system.”