Florida couple shaken by close encounter with cruise ship

Posted at 8:49 PM, Mar 08, 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Watching boats sail by may be one of the benefits of waterfront living, but getting buzzed by a massive cruise ship was more than one Florida couple had in mind.

Fort Lauderdale homeowners Yasmine and Bill Todhunter are used to the view of cruise ships coming and going through Port Everglades, but what happened March 3 was too close for comfort, they told WSVN.

Yasmine Todhunter said she grabbed her cellphone and started recording after the couple were startled to see the 122,000-ton Celebrity Equinox cruise ship headed straight for their back patio.

"Too close, too close. Get out, I said get out!" she yells in the video as Bill waves his arms over his head.

"This thing is coming to the house and I was really worried," Yasmine said. "I was worried about my husband, I was worried about the dogs and I was worried about the house."

The cellphone video shows just how close the Celebrity Equinox came to their property – something the couple says they've never seen in seven years of living there. "I looked up and I knew something was wrong because I was looking up at the bow of the boat," Bill said. “It was towering over the house.”

The footage shows the crew reversing the ship's course before it could make contact with the protective sea wall.

Royal Caribbean – Celebrity Equinox's parent company – said this about the encounter:

"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."

Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the Port Everglades Pilots Association praised the ship’s crew, saying in a statement to the Sun Sentinel:

“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. 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.

The statements were of little comfort to the Todhunters.

"They say it was within a channel and nobody was at risk and it never touched bottom and I don't believe that statement at all,” said Bill Todhunter. “As you can see by the videos, obviously it was outside the channel and it looked like to me that it touched bottom, definitely."

The United States Coast Guard says there are no restrictions on how close a ship can get to a sea wall, but if a ship strikes ground, it has to be reported.

CNN contributed to this report.