BAYONNE, N.J. – A cruise ship that was battered by a major Atlantic storm earlier this month was headed back to its home port Sunday as another squall threatened its current voyage.
Royal Caribbean tweeted on Saturday that the Anthem of the Seas ship would return to the port of Bayonne, New Jersey.
"The decision to return home was based on avoiding forecasted gale warning weather conditions along our original itinerary and our desire to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and crew," Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Miami-based cruise line, said in a statement on Sunday.
John Turell, an executive with The Associated Press who is aboard the ship with his wife, said in an email that the ship's captain and its cruise director made announcements saying some people were suffering from norovirus.
"Sanitation levels on the ship have been boosted," said Turell, the AP's regional television executive for the Northeast. "(Ship) workers are scurrying around like ants, scrubbing down handrails, tables and any other surfaces that can be washed."
He noted that life aboard the ship "appears quite normal" other than the very visible increased sanitation efforts.
Martinez said "a small percentage of our guests have experienced gastrointestinal illness thought to be norovirus," about nine to 10 cases per day out of more than 6,000 people aboard. "Those affected by the short-lived illness are responding well to over-the- counter medicine," she said.
Turell said passengers were told Saturday night that the cruise was being cut two days short because of a storm developing off Cape Hatteras. As a result, planned stops in Barbados and St. Kitts were being skipped and the ship was expected to arrive at its home port on Wednesday morning.
The voyage's premature end comes just weeks after the Anthem of the Seas made headlines for another stormy incident.
The ship was damaged a day after it set sail on Feb. 6 when it encountered 30-foot waves and hurricane force winds, and its 4,500 passengers hunkered down for hours.
One passenger's lawsuit claims that people had to hold onto their beds to keep from falling and injuring themselves.