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Hurricane Sandy Creates Some Scary Moments Aboard The Disney Fantasy

By all accounts the first 5 days of the most recent 7 day cruise on the Disney Fantasy were fantastic. Sure they had to skip Castaway Cay due to hurricane Sandy, but sometime you have to roll with the punches when you travel during Hurricane season. Well, the last night of the cruise the Fantasy did a lot of rolling. The ship and is passengers encountered 12 hours of 40-50 foot swells and 80 MPH winds as it sailed back to Port Canaveral overnight. It sounds like Captain Tom Forberg was at the helm, which means the ship was in capable hands, but still a frightening experience for any guest to endure.

The question being debated online is whether Disney intentionally sailed into rough weather hoping to keep to a tight turnover schedule for the ship or if they found the storm stronger than expected. The ship was within 200 miles of the storm, well within the tropical storm strength winds of the 1000 mile wide Hurricane Sandy. I tend to believe Disney Cruise Line thought the storm would weaken as it moved north, but instead it strengthened and slowed down capturing the Disney Fantasy in its impact zone. In the end, not an ideal scenario for Disney Cruise Line. They probably could have erred more on the side of caution, but it sounds like the close encounter with a hurricane wasn’t intentional.

A few videos have surfaced and things look like they got pretty severe. There were many reports of damage on the ship from broken doors to smashed furniture. Remy and Palo apparently were a mess with many dishes and glasses lost in the rough seas. Additionally, some rooms experienced slight flooding as pools overflowed and flooded those decks. Luckily there were no reports of injuries.

This iReport from CNN has some of the most dramatic footage.

More videos from onboard the Disney Fantasy below the jump:

This shows more of the post-hurricane damage in the stores. Looks like a combination of cast members purposefully removing merchandise and tipping over shelves and some real damage.

The reports I’ve read from passengers say that all Disney’s cast members were wonderful and went out of their way to help where they could. As compensation, passengers were offered 25% off their next Disney cruise booking. Do you feel that was appropriate compensation from DCL for enduring such a scary night?

32 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy Creates Some Scary Moments Aboard The Disney Fantasy”

  1. I think guest should of gotten at least half off the ticket price with there next booking and disney goodies to boot. The disney cruise is suppose to offer a magical experience not a scary trip.

      1. NO but they can control taking my whole family including my 3 year into a very dangerous situation. I LOVE all these people chastising people for being upset like you had to hold your wife and child through that and tell them everything would be ok when you weren’t even sure yourself. I was there, I can say from experience that Disney put the lives of 4000 people in serious danger. No coast guard or life boats would have saved a soul during 100 mph winds at 50 foot swells.

      2. I agree with Brian, it wasn’t an iceberg but it felt like we were on the Titanic and we were going to go down eventually with those waves

    1. First, let’s all be thankful that no one was seriously physically injured.
      With that said, although I understand how horrible it must have been onboard the Fantasy the last night and I would have liked to have seen Disney offer 50% off a next cruise instead of 25%, I do see Disney’s point.
      Cruises are discounted during hurricane season for a reason! When you sign your ticket/ boarding pass, (weather you read it or not) you are agreeing that Disney in no way is responsible for the weather and other natural acts that cause less than perfect travel including missing ports, changing ports, delays, early returns and rough seas.
      I have read where some of you actually believe that Disney intentionally risked your lives by trying to sail through a storm to save money. Think it through; although the captain has to have approval for major course changes, he is in control of the vessel. Do you think for one minute that he intentionally put HIS OWN LIFE in danger to save a few dollars for Disney? I think not!
      Do you think Disney would have sailed through that storm if they knew it were going to be as rough as it was, any amount of money they saved by getting back to port and staying on schedule was certainly lost by the repairs they are going to have to complete- broken windows, doors, merchandise, glass wear and more.
      I am convinced that if Disney knew how rough it was going to be, they would have delayed the return. Of course if they delayed the return, they would be getting complaints of missed flights, extra hotel charges, extra parking, missed work and other expenses Disney should repay!
      Disney could have canceled the cruise altogether, but imagine how upset the passengers would have been if they did that at the cruise terminal!
      (Cruise, cancel the cruise, delay, sail through) I don’t think there was anything Disney could have done that would not have resulted in unhappy customers! They were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      1. I have to disagree with James. I absolutely think that Disney pushed ahead so that they could get a new ship full of passengers heading out to sea again. Of 4 cruise ships that were supposed to port on Saturday, ours (I was on that ship, too) was the ONLY one to make it. All the other ships stayed farther out at sea. Disney’s decision to get so close to protect their almighty profits was a HUGE mistake. It was my expectation that in a situation like this, Disney would take the MOST CONSERVATIVE approach given that they know they have a ship full of children. The terror we went through was unnecessary!!

  2. Considering Disney has ZERO control over weather, offering guests anything is kind of awesome in my opinion.

    Of course, people don’t go expecting to end up in a hurricane, but it’s something they should be aware can happen, especially during hurricane season.

    Seems like everything was handled well to me!

    1. Ryan – Disney may not control the weather, but they very much control where their ships go. They made a conscious decision to sail the ship into Hurricane Sandy — a decision they made over 48 hours in advance (they announced it on Wednesday afternoon) and with full knowledge of were the storm would be. How is that “handled well”?

      Can you honestly say that if you were on a ship that could chose either to stay in calm water or sail into a hurricane, you would want to sail into the hurricane?

  3. This is a point where a company has a chance to prove itself and disney to me didnt here, they made a bad decision to proceed and failed to fairly compensate its paying guests. Why is the appology forcing guests to give more money to them, why not refund some of their current trip? To me all this does is benefit disney more by getting these people to cruise again. I’m glad the staff on board was nice, however that’s still no excuse to not have a company policy for refunding a percentage of cruise price.

    After seeing all this, I will probably continue to sail cheaper and other ships, they may not be as kid friendly but are for sure more safe and fair about refunding money when a bad experience has occurred.

  4. I think that is a more than adequate compensation from Disney. It’s not exactly their fault that there was a hurricane. It’s one of the risks for customers booking in hurricane season. And the implicit suggestion of this article seems to be that Disney purposefully drove their cruise into the heart of the storm in order to save time? What utter rubbish. Disney is a company which prides itself on excellence in customer service and for its child friendly holidays. Sure, this goes hand in hand with putting all of its crew and cast members in danger? Ridiculous.

    1. Yeah well they made a huge mistake and you are a moron. We all understand the season just not the decision to drive 4000 innocent people into a dangerous, unpredictable storm for the sake of reloading the boat with new passengers so they could make more money. People are being so shortsighted about this its amazing. Its not about the compensation, its about the sheer stupidity of the captain and Disney for even allowing this to happen when all other cruise lines stayed away. You would be singing another tune if it was you’re family in danger and you were surrounded by 50 foot waves.

  5. My family and I were on the Fantasy that night. It was a terrifying, nauseating night.

    The problem here is that Disney chose to sail into Hurricane Sandy. There clearly was enough concern about the weather that other cruise lines kept their ships in calmer waters. When deciding between money (get back to port on time) or safety and comfort of passengers (stay in calm waters an extra day), Disney chose money. Other cruise lines did not. I’m furious at Disney.

    And the 25% off a future Disney cruise? Insulting. They should have offered a partial refund for last week’s cruise for making such a terrible decision to go into the storm. More importantly, they should have offered a true apology for and explanation of what happened — and a promise that it will never happen again.

    1. We might have known there was hurricane if we had been able to see the weather channel but with all the electronic capabilities we have in this world they couldn’t give us that. Of course until a storm system poses a threat it doesn’t make the news channels and we were on a cruise anyway, why would we want to watch the television? We depended on the Captain to make this trip enjoyable and especially to keep us informed of possible problems. If they would give a day break in between the cruises they might make one day less in money but they could afford for these situations.

  6. As a passenger aboard this ship, it was terrifying. The 12 hours endured caused me physical illness which made it difficult to care for my children but worse was the fact that I trusted Disney with my children and instead we were placed in harms way. There was no reason why the ship could not have gone into the gulf on Florida’s west coast. Just for a few hours to get a better idea of the power of the hurricane. At that point we had endured plenty of rough waters, but we pushed forth. To say it was the passengers fault for booking during hurricane season is absurd. If that was the case we would all never travel. There has not been a hurricane this late in the season in a hundred years. We cannot regret what has happened but we can control how we react. The reaction was not safest. Money off a future trip will never take away the fear I have now of trusting any of these companies during travel.

  7. I can say The Captain sounded a little nervous at 1:30am when he made his announcement that the ship was safe, stay in your cabin. I don’t think he was expecting anything like that because there were no announcements to secure your cabin. Luggage was being tossed to and fro in the halls and many maintenance utility doors were wide open and the luggage was banging into them.. There were gauges on some of the pipes that I was worried the luggage would hit.. No workers were around to secure these doors and it was disconcerting. A lot of us had broken glasses in our rooms when we returned to our cabins and were thrown on our tushes. The Ship might have been okay but I wasn’t so sure I was not going to break an arm or leg. The eerie sound of the ballasts compensating for the waves added to the sounds of screams, shouts and cries of the young and old. Teens were lying in the halls with life jackets and crying.

  8. I want to commend that Disney Cast Member helping those people across and inside, we met her in the Cove Cafe making the coffees at the Adult Only Pool area. The crew members dealing with and helping us through that storm are the most heroic, as for the folks on the bridge, you should have known better than put us through those rough waters, we heard the big noise and then the ship came to a dead stop, yes the Fantasy suffered damage alright.

  9. I completely agree with Captain Tom sounding nervous. They barely informed us of anything most of the night. He came on randomly spouting of small sentences and then disappeared. That was by far one of the scariest days of my life. We endured a lot of bad seas during a day and a half with little problems but Friday night into Saturday was unimaginable. For people to blame us for taking that cruise at that time is absurd. We all know that we could encounter storms at that time but as professionals it is Disney and The Captains job to keep the passengers and staff safe at all times. Directly driving straight into a hurricane while many other cruise lines stayed out to sea or in port was one of the stupidest decisions I have ever seen. Safety should always take precedent. If your guessing you’ll be ok with 4000 lives at stake you already blew it. The first 5 days were great but all I can keep thinking about is holding my wife and child tight and telling them we would be ok. All in all I have 9 family members on that boat and if the worst case scenario happened we all would’ve been lost. No possible way in hell the coast guard or life boats would saved you in those seas with that wind. Thank God we are all safe and Ill be damned if I will be on another cruise with Disney anytime soon.

  10. Even the luggage porter at our next stop said they could have tried to put in to Miami or Port Lauderdale and bus us back to Orlando or Port Canaveral, wherever you had to get back to. But they chose the more uncomfortable way and just shows what they think of their customers, they didn’t care enough for us we are just dollar bills to them.

  11. If you weren’t on the Fantasy the night of 26th you have no business commenting. It was as if someone had a gun to your head and your just waiting to die, that’s the level of fear most had. When the captain made two announcements in the middle of the night he sounded terrified. He gave NO comfort or assurance that you wouldn’t be trapped and drowning with your family as he confined you to your stateroom. The storm was moving North and the Fantasy was moving north FASTER, that’s intensional. They thought their ship could handle it, they were wrong and put us in harms way. We should have stayed off St. Thomas for a day and let the storm move through…instead we were terrorized by their piss pore judgement.

  12. This was my first cruise and it will probably be my last.. My husband and two children were glued in our beds praying that we would make it safely to port… There is no way we would have survived in those waters if the ship went down and I agree that at 2 am it felt like it was going down… Disney is a huge business and I feel that they made a huge mistake by not sailing to calmer waters or taking us to Miami … It was very evident the next day that the crew were all frazzled by the events as our departure was very unorganized and uncharacteristic of disney. I know I took this cruise during hurricaine season but I assumed there were some pre existing policies that cruise ships had to follow in these extreme circumstances…. Safety being one of them!….and feeling safe was definitely not something any person on that cruise can say they felt that night…. I’m not looking for a refund but I do feel an apology would be a start…

  13. I was aboard the Fantasy the night of this storm. My perspective is a little different in that Im a current airline Captain for a major airline. In my opinion, I feel Disney and Captain Tom knew quite a bit about the seas we were going to experience. The technology on this ship coupled with the huge data stream coming in from buoys, ship to ship communications, radar returns, wind data, etc., should have spelled out a very uncomfortable ride that was going to be unpleasant for all. Other ships took notice of this data and chose to stay clear. My second observation I made, was that once they made this decision, they chose not to secure the passengers and crew of the ship with an announcement to stay in your cabin. Yes, the Captain finally made an announcement after 8 hours of a beating. I called the ship operator and insisted that he contact the Captain and tell him that he needs to talk to the passengers, shortly after my call the Captain came over the PA. Not sure that it was solely due to my call, but he needed to let crew and passengers know that he was in control and we were going to be alright. On one of my flights if I knew there was going to be turbulence, I would seat all the passengers and crew and have them secure the cabin. On the Fantasy we encountered what I would call severe turbulence in the flying world. No one should have been up on their feet. From 5:30 pm on, the seas got progressively worse. At the showroom, I fell going down to my seat after we hit a big swell, during dinner servers were dropping trays and glasses were dumping over on the tables, once back in the room it was impossible to sleep or do anything due to the conditions. The handling of this situation needs to be examined by Disney and some major adjustments need to be made. If the worst of the seas happened when most of the passengers were in the halls and dining areas around 8pm, major injuries would have occurred. Large pieces of furniture falling on children, people washed from the deck by the pool dumping out, flying chairs and tables on the open decks filled with passengers. Disney dodged a major bullet on this one. I hope they are investigating the many failures in safety and poor decisions that ensued during the course of that scary evening.

  14. Wow! I must have been on a different ship. Or maybe it wasn’t as bad on deck 8 aft. Yes, the water was rough, and yes it was difficult to eat in the Enchanted Garden at the 530 seating (lowest level on the ship open to passengers). And yes, my children were not able to finish the “Case of the missing puppies” because the location had been tossed and obviously broken. But my family was able to sleep ok until Captain Tom woke us with his two early morning messages. Thank you Disney for the 25%. Thank you Captain Tom for getting us home safe. Yes, I said home safe as here I am several weeks after our cruise, able to type this post. Oh, and yes, we will be seeing you again, late November this time, for our fourth Disney cruise.

    1. HEAR YE HEAR YE.. I also was on the fantasy with 8 of my family members and I am the biggest baby in the world when it comes to fear. However, I was reassured by the captain that we would be ok and believed him. My husband slept quietly beside me while I watched 4 movies through the whole ordeal. Im not going to say that it wasnt scary, because it was, but when you take those trips, you are putting your life in the captains hands to keep you safe. I just said a little prayer and held on… Thank you Captain Tom for getting us home safely. I too will be seeing you again for my 5th Disney Cruise….

  15. Scott
    Being in the lower part of the ship is a huge advantage, being further out on the moment arm will cause a more exaggerated motion. I was on the 9th floor, and you could not stand or sit without holding on to something. I watched a crying older lady sitting in the stairwell with officers and crew surrounding her with blankets. She was swept off her feet by the pool dumping over, she was swept across the deck into the railing that is on the edge of the deck.
    This was my fourth Disney Cruise and Im still a fan and will still encourage others to go.
    My point is that this was not a safe situation and could have been much worse depending on the time of day. The decision makers need to reevaluate what they could have done better. They can not control weather but they could have controlled their error in judgement that evening. In my professional opinion, they made a poor decision and after making this decision, failed in making the crew and passengers safe while entering into the conditions we encountered. If I chose to fly my aircraft thru a storm instead of diverting or holding, then proceeded to have the seat belt sign off with passengers walking in the aisles and never make an announcement while then hitting severe turbulence, I would be doing a carpet dance in front of the chief, followed by many lawsuits.

    1. I cannot comment on the decision that was made to follow the storm instead of staying at St. Thomas and extra day (which would have been alot better than staying in St. Marteen, was not a big fan) as I do not have subject matter expertise on the situation. I feel sorry for the woman that was on deck 11 during the rough water. Maybe she could have made a better choice than walking around on deck 11 during the rough weather. Maybe she should have also made a better choice and stayed inside the ship rather than walkign around on the open deck. She shouldl have went and watched the Bucket Boys….what a show! This whole thing has gotten out of hand, the sitaution was as bad as many are playing it up to be….

  16. And that is the problem. everyone wants to place blame elsewhere, rather than taking personal accountability for their own safety. As an adult, I am fully responsible enough to conduct a personal risk assessment and take apppropriate action to help mitigate that risk. Again, Captain Tom did not need to come over the stateroom speaker and tell me to stay in my stateroom. That was very obvious to me given the conditions. If I decided to leave my stateroom to walk around the ship and video the pool by Currents, then I should be responsible for my own stupidity. I guess 15 years in law enforcement (10 of those years as a senior administrator) has made me cynical…

  17. I have to say, I have been on the Disney cruise 4 times now, all between the dates of middle to late october and early november, I have 3 out of 4 times gone through, around or been in the aftermath of a hurricane during these times. I can honestly say that although this last one had some of the roughest waters at times it was not the worst………the part that gets me is, you complain about the captain and getting home safely and you think nothing of what happened to all the people in New York and all the other places the hurricane hit, you think nothing of complaining about how scared you were and yet other people were dying. I understand, you are pissed at the captain and at disney for not considering your safety…….but he odviously did consider it cause you got home safe did you not? You are able to rant on here about how much you will never do it again so odviously you made it home…….what about the people that lost their homes and their lives…….how about we all stop bitching and complaining about something we can’t change and be thankful that we all did make it home safe!!!!

    And just to be clear, the 25% off is not just for a cruise, you can use it at any disney resort if you choose to do that instead.

  18. At least you’re not sitting in your own crap stuck out in the middle of the ocean on a broken ship. Oh, how we’re those onion sandwiches??? Bet you Disney took better care of you then that!

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