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Florida family describes Norwegian cruise through massive winter storm as 'nightmare from hell'

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 09:13:13-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A Southwest Florida family was aboard a Norwegian cruise ship that went through the thick of last week's "bomb cyclone" and described it as a "nightmare from hell."

The Bernau family of Cape Coral, Fla., said they have been on at least 20 cruises.  They thought the Norwegian Breakaway cruise from Manhattan to the Bahamas that departed on Dec. 29 would be a fun way to ring in the New Year.

"This is a trip we will never forget," Aaron Bernau said. "It was crazy. It was a nightmare, really from hell. It was just horrible."

Bernau said when his family got to the Bahamas, just an hour into their stop, they were told it was time to evacuate.

"The tender rides, the small boat rides from the island to the ship, were unbelievable," he said.

Unfortunately, he said that was just the beginning.

"Twelve hours later, we were in the eye of the thick of it, and it continued for the rest of the cruise, three or four days," Bernau said.

He said the waves were going over the bow of the boat, rocking the ship so badly, they had to clutch onto whatever they could find to get around.

"None of us really slept at all," Bernau's 16-year-old daughter Alecia said. "The boat was rocking too much. We were all sick. People were throwing up." 

"Sliding glass doors that just blew out, furniture that's left at sea, big signage that's gone," Bernau described. "They have all this artwork. It was all on the floor, or they were using duct tape to hold it to the wall."

Bernau said the family thought they might not make it out of the storm, and felt the captain wasn't relaying any information or doing anything to comfort passengers and crew members.

"Every few hours or so maybe, he would say the same scripted 15 words," Alecia said.

"'We're adjusting the speed and course to minimize ship movement,'" Bernau remembered the captain saying. "That's it. That's it."

He said the no one from Norwegian Cruise Lines has explained why the cruise went straight into the storm.

"You really do trust that the captains consult their weather, and there really should be no risk. This storm was predicted," Bernau said.

The Bernaus said all they want is some kind of apology.

WFTX-TV in Fort Myers reached out to Norwegian Cruise Lines to see what they are doing to make this right with customers, and why their ship went through the massive storm. Norwegian has not responded but told Fox News the ship "encountered stronger than forecasted weather conditions" due to the "bomb cyclone."

WFTX-TV Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley said that's not the case, and the forecast for this storm was in place well advance of the ship's departure.