PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - A Norwegian cruise ship that hit freak weather causing the ship to tilt and injuring passengers docked in Port Canaveral Tuesday morning.
“Just before midnight on Sunday, March 3, Norwegian Escape encountered unexpected weather in the form of a sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots, which resulted in the ship heeling to the port side,” the cruise line wrote on Twitter. “Several injuries were reported and those guests and crew received immediate attention or are being treated by the ship’s medical staff," the statement continued.
Passengers described to FOX 35 the exact moment the unexpected wind gust hit the ship. Eyewitness accounts and the images are jaw dropping.
“I was playing poker. All of a sudden, I had to grab a hold of the table, because I couldn’t keep my balance,” one passenger told us.
“It came out of nowhere! I was like ‘Oh my god! What was that?'" said another.
Port Canaveral is a port of call for the Escape. Moments before it docked, FOX 35 saw a line of ambulances puling up.
Pictures and video from the passengers show objects strewn all over state rooms. In recreation areas like the casino and bars, chairs, tables, and games are knocked down. Shell-shocked vacationers are seen walking around, unsure what just happened or what to do next.
“It was a pretty traumatic experience,” said Chris Mills, vacationing from Canada.
Mills was in his room, about to hit the bed. The ship rocked steeply and he heard screaming and things breaking. When he emerged, he found fellow passengers on the floors, with bumps, bruises and cuts.
“I saw someone, she was down. She was being tended to -- there was some blood coming down from her face. I think she had been in a casino area where a slot machine had toppled over or something. She was grabbing onto it for support, and it kind of fell over,” Mills explained.
Norwegian said a few passengers received immediate medical treatment on board. The company said the ship is still fully operational and there is no significant damage, so the trip will continue as scheduled -- to the Bahamas and then back to New York.
“It was definitely the first type of that experience and hopefully the last,” Mills said.
The company isn't saying how many people if any were loaded into ambulances, but area hospitals reported taking in some of the injured. Passengers said after that gust of wind, there was an announcement over the intercoms that the ship was ok, and things have gotten back to normal since the Sunday night incident.
The Escape can carry more than 4,000 passengers according to Norwegian.