BARCELONA, Spain – Freak waves that smashed into a Mediterranean cruise ship flooded people's cabins, broke windows in a restaurant and terrified many travelers in an ordeal that claimed two lives, a passenger said Thursday.
Claude Cremex, 73, of Marseille, France said he was in his cabin resting because of the rough seas when the walls of water hit the Cypriot-owned Louis Majesty, which was carrying 1,350 passengers and 580 crewmembers off the coast of northeastern Spain.
The company Louis Cruise Lines said the ship was struck Wednesday by three "abnormally high" waves up to 26 feet high that broke glass windshields in the forward section.
Two people died and six were slightly hurt, according to the Greek coast guard and Spanish officials.
Cremex said he did not see the waves himself but later viewed the damage.
"It was spectacular," he told The Associated Press as the ship sat docked at Barcelona's port with passengers sunning themselves on deck the day after the accident.
"A lot of water came in. Many cabins were flooded," said Cremex, who was traveling with his wife. "Many people were very frightened."
Louis Cruise Lines was not reachable early Thursday to say what the company will do now with the ship and passengers.
The ship's exact original itinerary was not entirely clear, either.
The Spanish news agency Europa Press said it had set sail from the southeastern Spanish port of Cartagena Wednesday, en route to Genoa, Italy. It had planned to stop in Barcelona but skipped it because of bad weather, but ultimately docked there after the waves hit, the agency said.
An official with the Spanish Interior Ministry office in Barcelona said the passengers disembarked Thursday morning so inspectors could examine the ship.
Louis Cruise Lines' Web site says the ship is 680 feet long, and features 10 passenger decks and 732 staterooms along with various bars, pools, restaurants and shops.