‘Storm-battered’, ‘bad luck’ and even ‘cursed’ are just three of the epithets applied by the media to Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship after the early return to port after its latest voyage was curtailed.
And, although the shipping line said that the ship was turned around to avoid another storm, passengers have said that it was sickness, not weather, that forced this cruise to have an early finish.
According to reports from passengers, on Monday the captain informed them that 109 passengers were sick with norovirus but this figure was increased on Tuesday when the US Centers for Disease Control’s data line listed the ship. It said 125 passengers and 16 crew were infected at that stage. Although the CDC listed the cause as ‘unknown’, if it turns out to be norovirus, it would make Anthem the fourth America-based cruise ship to suffer that fate this year.
Of the descriptions given by the Press, the ship was certainly battered by the stronger than forecast storm that hit it last month. However, the damage seems to have been restricted to elements of the hotel aspects of the ship; the actual structure and sea-worthiness was unaffected.
That the ship has now run into another difficulty, a second cruise cut short, it certainly indicates that it has encountered some bad luck. But to go so far as to describe the vessel as cursed is a complete and unfair overreaction by journalists sensationalising their stories. The ‘cursed’ cruise ship theme made a great headline for the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper which asked “Is the Anthem of the Seas Cursed?” Meanwhile, in the US, news stories in the Inquisitr, Newsmax, and the Examiner all joined in by calling Anthem as ‘cursed’.
After a career in journalism, I feel qualified to agree that Anthem was storm-battered last month and this incident does point to some bad luck – but ‘cursed’? Really? Pure nonsense of course.
Now the ship is back in its home port of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, and undergoing a deep clean to rid it of the norovirus or anything else it may be. I say this because some passengers have claimed that CDC personnel boarded the ship in Puerto Rico to test for e-coli. In the days and weeks to come, we will all be told the findings of the CDC and any element of mystery regarding the infection will be dispelled.
One criticism that must be levelled at Royal Caribbean was that it was wrong to blame the early return to port as a precaution because of a storm threat. Even if that was true, the outbreak of illness should not have been ignored – some may say hidden. Passengers were correctly kept informed by the captain and it should have been the company who told the world at the same time – not leaving the story to leak out via passengers. On this occasion, RCI’s public relations team did themselves and the company no good at all.
One final point. As I am so confident that the ship is not ‘cursed’, would I sail on it again? Absolutely, I have every faith in the ship, its captain and crew. I’d go on its next cruise, if I had the chance.