Royal Caribbean Ship Impacted by Sudden Storm in Gulf of Mexico

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Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas recently encountered a severe squall in the Gulf of Mexico while finishing her most recent sailing.

The storm’s intensity created onboard flooding, furniture damage, glass breakage, and other impacts, but fortunately, no severe injuries were reported and the ship returned to Galveston as scheduled.

Voyager of the Seas Encounters Storm

Guests aboard Voyager of the Seas experienced some tense moments on the afternoon of Friday, January 26, 2024 as the ship was returning to Galveston, Texas at the end of a 5-night Western Caribbean cruise that had visited Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., the ship encountered a strong squall line with fierce winds, tall waves, and heavy rainfall, as well as intermittent hail.

The vessel was listed noticeably, and furniture on the open decks was tossed about, while indoor lounges had broken glassware and other damage. Displays tipped over in retail stores, and in the ship’s casino, slot machines tipped and fell.

Guests onboard reported that some individuals were injured by slot machines falling, but no severe injuries have been reported.

Videos and photos shared to different social media sites also show flooding in both public areas and guest staterooms, as well as passengers milling about in general confusion as the situation evolved.

Crew members reacted quickly to clean up, including putting towels down to soak up water in flooded areas and to ensure flooring was safe for guests. Security was stationed around the ship to reassure guests and offer guidance as needed.

As is standard procedure, the open decks were closed during the storm and for a period of time afterward while safety checks were performed and the area was cleaned up.

Overall, the storm and the resulting cleanup lasted 3-4 hours. Despite the difficult seas, the ship was able to return to Galveston as planned, and departed on her next sailing – another 5-night Western Caribbean sailing – without problems.

The storm was likely the same squall line that Carnival Dream also passed through when guests and crew members were advised to stay in their cabins.

It is unknown whether guests onboard Voyager of the Seas were similarly asked to return to their staterooms during the roughest weather. Both ships have similar sizes and similar guest capacities.

The 138,194-gross-ton Voyager of the Seas can welcome 3,602 guests onboard at double occupancy, or as many as 4,000 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. Also onboard are 1,200 international officers and crew members.

Cruise Ships and Sudden Storms

While cruise ships do attempt to steer clear of bad weather, it is not always possible to completely avoid lengthy squall lines or large storm systems. This is particularly true in the case of Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Dream, both of which were heading back to Galveston at the time of the severe weather.

Because the ships were heading back to their homeport, they were not able to adjust their route as significantly as if the incidents happened mid-cruise, when a port of call could be rescheduled or cancelled.

Cruise Ship in Storm
Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock

Read Also: What to Do Onboard a Cruise Ship in Bad Weather

Even in the midst of bad weather, however, cruise ships can change their orientation, adjust speed, deploy stabilizers, and take other steps to ensure guests’ safety and comfort as much as possible until the severe weather passes.

Onboard activities are often adjusted as well to be sure crew members and entertainment performers are safe, and outer decks may be closed when winds are high.

Similarly, guests may be advised to stay off their private balconies or verandahs during bad weather, especially as these areas can be prone to flooding when waves are high or rainfall is intense.

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