Port Canaveral, Florida, experienced a dramatic start to the weekend on Friday when a sudden summer storm disrupted the departure of Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. The summer storm caught passengers off guard while boarding the ship, creating a chaotic scene reminiscent of a movie set.
While the sail-away party would have been a bit wet, tropical rains and afternoon storms are a regular occurrence in Florida during the summer and usually do not significantly affect cruise schedules.
Storm Ushers in Chaos Aboard Independence of the Seas
On Friday, June 16, guests onboard Independence of the Seas experienced a brief period of chaos as high winds suddenly impacted the vessel, resulting in deck chairs flying and forcing passengers to run for cover. The chaotic incident occurred while the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was docked at its homeport.
“On Friday, June 16, while departing from Port Canaveral, Independence of the Seas encountered a sudden gust of high winds. This lasted for a brief period, and there were no serious injuries to our guests or crew. Independence of the Seas continued its regularly scheduled 3-night itinerary, arriving at Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas on Saturday morning, as scheduled.”
Independence of the Seas, weighing in at 154,407 gross tons and with space for 3,858 guests, was just preparing to depart Port Canaveral when the summer storm swept in. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, but guests were undoubtedly surprised at the sudden weather event. Many posted to social media, with videos of the carnage that occurred on the open deck.
After the brunt of the storm subsided, a matter of mere minutes, the ship’s open decks bore more resemblance to a disaster-stricken vessel than a cruise ship poised to embark on a joyous journey to The Bahamas. The strong winds displaced deck chairs and other light outdoor furnishings.
A Regular Phenomenon
The summer storm’s sudden onset is not entirely surprising considering Florida’s weather patterns. The state frequently experiences afternoon thunderstorms during the summer, characterized by gusty winds and heavy rainfall.
For example, The National Weather Service verified an EF-1 tornado touchdown in the South Patrick Park neighborhood in Brevard County, just 20 miles from Port Canaveral, earlier this month. The tornado, boasting peak wind speeds of 90-100 mph, damaged approximately 40-50 homes and led to a power outage for around 126 FPL customers.
Despite the storm at Port Canaveral, Independence of the Seas began its sailing as planned.
Independence of the Seas offers two cruises out of Port Canaveral, Florida. The first is a 3-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise, which includes stops at Coco Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas.
The second itinerary is a slightly longer 4-night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise. This voyage includes a day at sea to enjoy the ship’s amenities, followed by stops in Nassau and Perfect Day at Coco Cay before returning to Port Canaveral.
How to Respond During Intense Storms
Sudden and intense storms can be unsettling for guests onboard a cruise ship. However, with the right approach and by following safety protocols, passengers can ensure their well-being during such events.
Firstly, maintaining calm is crucial. Modern cruise ships are robust and designed to weather even the most severe marine conditions. Panic can lead to accidents, so staying calm will keep you safe.
Listening to and following instructions from the ship’s crew is paramount. The crew members are trained to handle these situations, and they have the best knowledge of the ship and its safety procedures.
If a storm hits while guests are on the open deck, move indoors as quickly and safely as possible. In high winds, loose objects can become airborne, as seen in the video onboard Royal Caribbean International‘s Independence of the Seas, creating a hazardous environment. Being inside the ship can protect guests from such potential dangers.
Crew members will clean up and reopen outside areas as soon as possible after a storm passes, and guests will be able to resume their cruise vacation with ease.