The 4,529 passengers were given the choice to stay overnight on the vessel or disembark immediately. All are being refunded the cost of the cruise and will be able to apply 50% of what they paid on the sailing to a next Royal Caribbean voyage. Four travelers sustained minor injuries.
The U.S. Coast Guard, authorities from the Bahamas, where the ship is flagged, and Royal Caribbean, will now evaluate the Anthem for damages. According to the company, most of the superficial damage had been fixed and the ship was expected to make its next cruise, scheduled for Saturday, February 13.
Royal Caribbean issued an apology to the guests and 1,616 crew members, who sailed through 30ft waves, and promised to do better at monitoring severe weather conditions. In a statement, the line said:
"We apologize for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through. The event, exceptional as it was, identified gaps in our planning system that we are addressing. Though that system has performed well through many instances of severe weather around the world, what happened this week showed that we need to do better."
Royal Caribbean will likely to continue to face criticism for Anthem of the Seas sailing; U.S. Senator Bill Nelson called for the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the accident.
Returning to port came as a relief to many cruise passengers, some of whom stood out on the balconies and cheered as the ship pulled into Cape Liberty around 9 p.m. Curious onlookers waved and tooted horns as the Anthem came in.