- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Passengers disembarking yesterday from a cruise ship that was struck by a freak seven-story-high wave said the stormy weather that smashed windows and sent furniture flying reminded them of the Titanic.

Despite the fright and the flying furniture, the ship apparently had never been in danger of breaking up. No structural damage was found.

The Norwegian Dawn arrived with more than 2,000 passengers on board after 300 others left the ship early in Charleston, S.C., to fly or drive home. The ship docked on Manhattan’s West Side, near the floating Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The 965-foot white ocean liner sailed to New York from the Bahamas on Saturday, and a storm pounded the vessel with heavy seas, including a rogue 70-foot-high wave. The wave sent furniture sailing through the air and knocked hot tubs overboard. Several passengers slept in hallways in life jackets.

Passenger Robert Clark said he was trying not to be angry about the cruise but had one question: “Why would you go through a storm?”

Mr. Clark, a New Yorker who disembarked with his wife, Estelita Villafane, and their 7-year-old daughter, Myah, said the storm “woke me up. … We were going back and forth, up and down. And then ‘boom.’”

He ran into the corridor and found passengers from flooded cabins wearing life preservers. “It looked like the Titanic,” Mr. Clark said. “That was what was going through my head.”

Norwegian Cruise Line said the freak wave broke windows in two cabins. Sixty-two cabins were flooded, and four passengers suffered cuts and bruises. The wave reached as high as deck 10, a company spokeswoman said.

The Norwegian Dawn docked at Charleston for repairs and a Coast Guard inspection before continuing its voyage to New York early Sunday.

Bill and Ellen Tesauro of Wayne, N.J., said they went to the ship’s casino when the storm started slamming the vessel.

“We figured it would take our minds off this, [and] that’s when the captain announced that drinks are free all night,” Mr. Tesauro told the New York Daily News. “But then there was another horrendous slap on the water.”

The panicked couple returned to their suite.

“A desk went flying across the room,” Mrs. Tesauro said. “And a glass table toppled down, with glasses and food on it.”

The cruise line said passengers whose cabins were flooded were flown home from Charleston and that the safety of the ship “was in no way compromised by this incident.” Each passenger received a refund of half the trip’s cost and a voucher for half the price of a future cruise.

The ship left New York on April 10 with 2,500 passengers aboard. “I rented a car and drove nine hours,” said James Fraley of Keansburg, N.J., who was taking a honeymoon cruise. “No more time on the Titanic for me.”

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