PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - The winter storm of January 4 was horrendous, but for one local resident on a cruise, the storm took on ominous overtones.
4000 passengers aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship embarked on a nightmare vacation.
The ship was traveling to New York from the Bahamas and encountered terrifying weather.
Jason Neill is back at work making sure FOX 29 stays up and broadcasting, alone, at our transmitter building in Roxborough.
“I have never been happier to work on a Sunday in my entire life,” Jason states.
He can’t get images out of his mind, however. A nightmare at sea on the cruise ship Norwegian Breakaway. It had sailed into a powerful winter storm.
“I didn’t think much about it until one o’clock in the morning. I woke up hanging out of bed,” Jason said.
He said the ship was listing pretty badly.
“It wouldn’t right itself and the water was pouring in everywhere. The winds were ripping pieces of the ship off. I saw things flying past the window,” Jason said.
Jason said he saw worse when he and his spouse Rick got out of their room and encountered groups of adults and children huddled in hallways and open common areas.
“And all the little kids sitting in the middle of the floor with life vests on. They were praying. Families were praying,” Jason explained.
He says he looked to crewmembers for reassurance, but he saw fear instead.
“There were people out there with wet vacs trying to suck up the water and there were staff members that were crying,” Jason said.
He turned to his spouse for comfort.
“He looked at me and said, ‘I’m scared too. I think it’s prudent to have our identification on us,’” Jason explained.
Rick went back for passports and any kind of identification.
“Tell me what was the worst thing going through your mind? We weren’t coming home. You thought that was it? Yeah, I thought we were done,” Jason said to FOX 29.
“My dog was the most important thing to me and I started to compose a last message to my sister,” Jason said.
The winds backed off a bit. Jason’s fear turned into fury against the cruise line.
“As far as I’m concerned, they exercised very poor judgement,” Jason explained.
A statement from Norwegian Cruise Line apologizing reads in part:
“Norwegian Breakaway encountered stronger than forecasted weather conditions due to Winter Storm Grayson.”
“I don’t believe that for one minute, not for one second,”
Will he cruise again?
“Ask me in about a year,” said Jason.
Norwegian says no passenger was physically hurt while braving the storm and that the ship has already departed for its next scheduled cruise.
Some passengers say they’re going to need more than an apology from the cruise line.