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CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS RECOUNT ROUGH SAILING

The storm-battered cruise ship Norwegian Dawn returned to New York on Monday, and disembarking passengers told tales of rough seas, seasickness and flying furniture and broken glass.

Janet Rose, 53, of Hillsborough, N.J., said the 965-foot ocean liner -- on a cruise to the Bahamas -- experienced rough seas for at least 18 hours before a 70-foot wave smashed into it at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

"By 8 a.m. Friday, the seas were rough enough that passengers were starting to fall off the treadmills," she said. "You are in your cabin, the bed was vibrating, and everything was lurching."

Rose and her husband, Howard, 55, were among about 2,000 passengers who disembarked after the ship berthed. Waiting to get on for another voyage to the Bahamas was a second group of about 2,600.

"The sounds were terribly frightening," Janet Rose said in describing the storm-buffeted trip. "The reality was that lifeboats wouldn't have been any help in 40-foot waves."

"It was really much worse before the wave hit," Howard Rose said of what cruise officials described as a "freak wave" that broke two windows in two cabins, flooded 62 cabins and reached as high as deck 10 of the 14-deck ship. Four passengers suffered cuts and bruises, the cruise line said.

Anne Marie McElhatton, 36, of Rockland County, N.Y., echoed Howard Rose's sentiments.

"We went to dinner, and everything was falling off the tables," she said. "All evening it was rocking. I swear it was 'The Perfect Storm.' We were throwing up and crying the whole time."

Estelita Villafane, 34, and her husband, Robert Clark, of Brooklyn, said they were awakened by a boom when the wave struck. "I jumped right out of bed," said Villafane.

In a statement, the cruise line said passenger safety "was in no way compromised by this incident." It said passengers would receive a 50 percent refund and a voucher for half the price of a future cruise.

About 300 passengers got off the Norwegian Dawn when it docked at Charleston for repairs and a Coast Guard inspection before continuing to New York. Many of the passengers boarding the ship Monday for a new cruise said they expected smooth sailing.

"It's almost like when you have an airline disaster," said Phil Liscio, 49, of West Haven, Conn. "If you're the one that goes after, the odds are you are going to be OK."

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