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Cruise Ship Returning After Wave Damage

Associated Press | April 18, 2005

CHARLESTON, S.C. - A freak seven-story wave that slammed into a cruise ship sent furniture sailing through the air, knocked Jacuzzis overboard and forced some passengers to sleep in hallways in life jackets.

The Norwegian Dawn docked in the Charleston harbor for repairs after running into the rough weather Saturday while returning to New York from the Bahamas. The 965-foot vessel departed early Sunday after a Coast Guard inspection and was expected in New York at midday Monday.

"The ship was hit by a freak wave that caused two windows to break in two different cabins," Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement. It said 62 cabins flooded and four passengers had cuts and bruises. The wave reached as high as deck 10 on the ship, company spokeswoman Susan Robison said Sunday.

James Fraley, who was taking a honeymoon cruise with his wife, said they called their loved ones as the wave pounded the boat because they thought the ship was going down.

"It was pure hell. We're talking 47-foot waves hitting the 10th floor, knocking Jacuzzis on the 12th floor overboard - people sleeping in hallways in life jackets," Fraley told WCBD-TV in Charleston. "Just pure pandemonium."

Bill and Ellen Tesauro of Wayne, N.J., said they went to the ship's casino when waves 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," Bill Tesauro told the Daily News of New York. "But then there was another horrendous slap on the water."

The panicked couple decided to return to their suite.

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

Stacy Maryland of Hamilton, N.J., woke up to find shoes and magazines floating in a foot of water.

"I thought I heard water sloshing around, and then I woke up and saw it, and it was surreal," she told the newspaper.

The cruise line said passengers whose cabins were flooded were flown home from Charleston and the safety of the ship "was in no way compromised by this incident." Each passenger on the ship got a refund of half the trip's cost and a voucher for half the price of a future cruise, Robison said.

The ship left New York on April 10 with 2,500 passengers aboard. Robison said about 300 passengers decided not to return by ship from Charleston. About 100 were flown back to New York and the rest made their own arrangements, Robison said.

"I rented a car and drove nine hours," said Fraley, of Keansburg, N.J., who kissed his driveway when he got home. "No more time on the Titanic for me."

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