Several passengers hurt aboard Norwegian cruise ship after unexpected wind strikes

At least eight passengers aboard the Norwegian Escape were taken to hospitals in Florida after the cruise line said its ship encountered an "unexpected," strong wind over the weekend, causing it to lean to the left.

On Monday, Norwegian Cruise Line said in a series of tweets from its verified account that just before midnight Sunday, its Norwegian Escape had encountered unexpected weather "in the form of a sudden, extreme gust of wind, estimated at 100 knots, which resulted in the ship heeling to the port side."

"Several injuries were reported and those guests and crew received immediate attention or are being treated by the ship's medical staff," the cruise line added.

According to blog Cruise Law News, the Norwegian Escape left New York on Sunday and was bound for a Wednesday arrival in the Bahamas.

The Escape had a scheduled stop in Florida's Port Canaveral, where it was docked Tuesday as passengers received medical attention, the cruise line said.

At least eight passengers had been transported to two hospitals in the area and have since been released, officials told ABC News.

Samantha Foster, who was in bed on the ship watching a movie when the incident occurred, told ABC News she felt this "deep tilting" begin. Foster said she woke up her sister, who was sleeping in the room with her.

"It was unsettling at first. ... Then I started to panic. ... Things were flying off the counters, crashing," said Foster, who was visiting from Montreal. "We're holding onto the beds 'cause we're rolling out of the beds. We're just frozen with sheer panic. ... Waiting for the whole boat to capsize, at this point. ... I honestly feel like we're going to die."

She said at some point, the ship righted itself but still felt "rocky" and "unstable."

"A lot of people spent the night sleeping in all the common areas, with their jackets, their purses, their children," Foster said. "Everyone was unsettled. It was terrifying. ... It was the most scared I have ever been in my entire life."

On social media, passengers aboard the Escape posted images of tables, chairs and clothing racks toppled over. In posted videos, passengers could be heard screaming and glass could be heard shattering.

Roy Fernández, a New York resident who worked previously for Norwegian for three years, told ABC News, "I never experienced something like this."

Fernández said he was at a bar on the ship and saw everything go 45 degrees sideways as the ship tilted.

"We had to leave the bar and head out to the atrium while things kept falling," he said.

"We were avoiding sliding tables and furniture. We got to the atrium and looked out the port and saw water straight down," said Fernández's boyfriend Michael Patterson.

Fernández said the ship tilted to the left -- on the port side -- and remained like that for about 5 to 10 minutes. An announcement occurred and then the ship called three "Code Alpha," which is a medical emergency, he said.

"The last two nights I haven't been able to sleep more than two hours as I've been extremely anxious," he said. "Knowing that nothing like this (has) happened to me in the past has me on high alert."

Fernández told ABC News that there were about 12 ambulances waiting at the pier when the ship arrived at Port Canaveral. He said he also saw people after the incident being taken to the medical center.

There was no damage to the ship and the ship remained fully operational, Norwegian Cruise Line said.

"Neither the current itinerary, nor the next sailing are expected to be impacted," according to the cruise line.

The ship was scheduled to depart at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, said Steve Linden, director of communications and public affairs of Port Canaveral.

He said passengers would re-board the Escape a couple of hours prior to it leaving.
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