Passengers of the Carnival Sunshine are recounting their horror of riding out an intense and treacherous storm and what they experienced during the voyage.
The storm, which hit the ship near Charleston, sent panic through the passengers as wild waves hammered the cruise liner and they feared they would capsize.
Sharon Tutrone, who was on the ship celebrating the end of her chemotherapy, said the conditions were “absolute terror.”
“It was 11 straight hours of pure hell. The winds sounded like a wind tunnel. I thought we were going to capsize. It was absolutely terrifying,” Tutrone said to Good Morning America.
Videos taken by the passengers showed the stark intensity of the storm. Bolts of lightning illuminated the sky, while gushing waves rocked the ship as it was battered from the outside. The harrowing scenes inside the ship showed water seeping through hallways, pipes crashing from the walls, and metal doors toppling onto the deck.
According to passenger Daniel Taylor, when the storm hit, there was very little information from the crew about what was happening to the ship and the passengers.
‘After the weather got really bad, nobody reached out. There was silence over the intercom system,’ Taylor said.
With no response from the crew, passengers described how conditions worsened overnight Friday and into Saturday.
Taylor recalled how at 7 pm the ship started hitting large swells of water and he went into the Liquid Lounge for a show.
“The sound of us crashing into the swells could be heard over the music playing. Stage lights mounted on the ceiling began to shake, the disco ball started swinging and the LED wall on the stage began rolling side by side on its own,” Taylor explained.
The crew then began to close off the public deck areas.
At 8 pm, he said, he experienced plates and cups topple, and when he returned to his cabin, a glass chalice fell off the counter and shattered.
Throughout this time, Taylor said, the ship was still traveling at 11 knots per hour and reduced speed to 5 knots per hour at 11.15 pm when winds started hitting 80 mph.
But it wasn’t until 7:30 am that the cruise director came on the air to make an announcement that the Sunshine was outside Charleston harbor. The ship finally arrived at the port at around 5.30 pm Saturday night — more than nine hours after its scheduled time.
Minor injuries were reported and passengers noted they could smell people being sick walking down the hallways.
The National Weather Service released a warning to coastal communities about the hazardous boating conditions caused by the low–pressure system moving up the Atlantic coast.
In a statement to WCIV, a spokesperson for Carnival said: “Carnival Sunshine’s return to Charleston was impacted by the weather and rough seas on Saturday. Guests on board the ship were safe. Our medical staff helped a small number of guests and crew members who needed minor assistance.”
The Carnival Sunshine is now sailing on a five–day Bahamas cruise and will return to Charleston on Thursday.