"This was the worst moment of my life", one passenger told CBS New York, adding "when you're on a boat in the middle of the ocean and water is pouring down the stairs, you're thinking 'this is not going to end well".
A Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson said "stronger than forecasted weather conditions" were responsible for the chaos that unfolded.
Footage shows water pouring into the boat through stairwells, leaking through the ceiling, hallways and an elevator shaft.
Chuck Tredo and Ree Tredo, from Dallas were among the 400 passengers on the Norwegian Cruise Line
Another passenger Karoline Ross was travelling with 21 members of her family. "It was so tilted I was shaking". A second statement did acknowledge the distress of sailing through the storm.
"There were people crying, everyone was throwing up".
The Norwegian Breakaway voyage left the Bahamas Tuesday with around 4,000 individuals on board.
The Breakaway's late arrival to NY delayed a 14-day cruise, and the company says those guests will receive a refund for the lost day. Some guests were not feeling safe in their rooms, moving to the ship's atrium. "It was really awful", Karoline said. It wasn't so much about safety.
Passengers claim it all comes down to the company's bottom line. "I think Norwegian did a great job of handling the communications and just making sure we were informed". Royal Caribbean said its ships were safely south of the storm when it hit.
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