(7:30 p.m. EDT) -- Strong winds in Florida took Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas by surprise Sunday as it departed from Port Canaveral, causing what the line calls "severe ship movement" that left some public areas and passenger cabins damaged.
No major injuries were reported, and although some onboard shops were damaged when items began falling off shelves, the seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailing is proceeding as scheduled, line spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said.
Still, by many accounts it was a wild ride and left passengers shaken. Here's a report from Cruise Critic member ginadc, who's on Freedom and reported back on the message boards:
Last night was indeed pretty hairy. We'd been rolling quite a bit, but nothing too bad, until first seating dinner was almost over. I'd gone back to the cabin because my toddler was fussy, and as we were getting back was when the real storm hit us. Somehow even though we'd locked the balcony door, it had blown open, and I needed help from a steward to get into the room because of the force of the wind pulling our door closed. We have an aft family royal suite, and the living area was pretty soaked. The winds had shattered one of the glass balcony dividers and the whole balcony was covered in glass; I'm told this happened in about six staterooms.
I was literally crawling around on the floor with the baby, because walking was so hard. My husband was still in the main dining room with the older 2 kids, and glasses and dishes were rolling everywhere. Then he heard the huge shattering sound of what had to be one of the big tray carts crashing down in the galley. They closed down the dining room and he staggered back to the cabin carrying our 3yo, who slept through it all, with our 5yo struggling along beside hum.
The captain ordered everyone back to their staterooms or, if they couldn't get there (elevators had been shut down), to sit down in the nearest public area. He came on the PA periodically to give us updates; with the last one, at around 9 pm I think, he told us that he'd managed to get us going into the wind and he wouldn't wake people up for any more updates unless necessary. He then concluded with, "I have to go now, and I wish you all the best." Seriously. At that point I said to my husband, "If they start playing Nearer my God to Thee, we're getting the life preservers on." I was mostly joking, but not entirely. We did make a plan for how to divide the kids between us to get them to the muster station if need be.
It went on for a couple of hours at least. I'm told the crew was up most of the night cleaning up--liquor was pouring out under the door of the shop on the Promenade, all kinds of craziness. Today, things are getting cleaned up and slowly back to normal.
For her part, Martinez told Cruise Critic that some repairs will be completed throughout the voyage, and subsequent sailings should not be affected.
In related news, Carnival Sensation and Disney Dream delayed their scheduled departures from Port Canaveral on Saturday due to storm conditions. We're currently awaiting statements from both lines.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor