Winds and strong currents brought a cruise ship unusually close to homes on the water near Port Everglades, in Florida said a spokeswoman for the union of harbor pilots, who guide ships in and out of the port. As the 16-deck, 122,000-ton Celebrity Equinox cruise ship loomed over Bill and Yasmine Todhunter’s back patio on March 3, the alarmed couple recorded video of the scene, which they posted online.
“Yeah, we were freaked out,” Bill Todhunter, 57, said Wednesday. “Totally freaked out by it.”
Todhunter said he hopes the attention from the footage prevents something similar from happening again.“I’m just afraid there potentially could’ve been a huge accident”.
Todhunter, who has lived on Inlet Drive since 2013, says he sees cruise ships coming and going every day, but never one this close. Yasmine, 56, who has lived in the house since 2010, has also never seen anything like it.
Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for the Port Everglades Pilots Association, said in a statement that the Equinox was under control despite its close proximity to land.
Due to the strong winds and current at the time, the cruise ship in question came closer than usual to the side of the channel, as shown in the video,” Bascom said.
“The local Port Everglades harbor pilot maintained navigational control of the vessel throughout this maneuver, skillfully keeping it within the channel, then proceeded to safely guide the vessel out to sea. As stated by the cruise line, the vessel did not touch bottom. The use of bow thrusters in the channel disturbs the water and routinely churns up silt and mud, as shown in the video.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the agency was not investigating because it had not seen any evidence, nor had it received any mandated reports of a so-called marine casualty, a term used to describe a range of incidents including a vessel running aground or being involved in a collision.
Operators of vessels within the navigable waters of the U.S. are required to call the nearest Coast Guard sector after addressing any immediate safety concerns should such an incident take place, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Third Class Eric Woodall.
“Unless there’s any evidence or any information presented that there was a grounding, then there won’t be any further investigation,” Woodall said.
Two days after the Equinox came in for a close-up view of his backyard, Bill Todhunter posted video footage to the Celebrity Cruises Facebook page.
The cruise line then responded with a statement, also posted on Facebook.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” the statement read. “We have further looked into this matter. As Equinox departed on Friday, March 3, she was in her assigned channel at all times under the guidance of specialized local port pilots. The ship operated safely and did not put guests or crew at risk. We can also confirm the ship did not touch bottom.”
Before its departure on March 3, the ship had been moved to another terminal as a result of a 9,000-gallon fuel spill the night before.
A report that day by WSVN-Ch. 7 said that because of the spill, the Equinox docked at Terminal 25. Online port records say the ship had originally been scheduled to call at Terminal 18, a larger terminal used by the Equinox and ships belonging to the fleet of Celebrity’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.