Julie Jacobson/AP

Passengers cheered as Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas docked in New Jersey on Wednesday

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February 11, 2016 11:30 AM

A storm-battered cruise ship returned to port in New Jersey on Wednesday – and the thousands of passengers who were aboard as she endured violent seas couldn’t be happier.

“I kissed the ground,” a woman told the Associated Press after the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas docked at Bayonne’s Cape Liberty just after 9 p.m., escorted by a Coast Guard vessel and two tug boats.

The ship, one of the world’s largest, left for a week-long cruise to the Bahamas on Saturday, but ran into a massive storm just one day later. The storm left four passengers injured and thousands confined to their rooms, Royal Caribbean said.

“Everything was blowing open, the closets were flying open, glass was breaking,” one woman told NBC New York. “It was a cruise from hell.”

Passengers from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas arrive at port in New Jersey
Julie Jacobson/AP

Royal Caribbean said in a statement that the situation “identified gaps” in the company’s planning system, according to NBC.

“Though that system has performed well through many instances of severe weather around the world, what happened this week showed that we need to do better,” the company said in the statement.

The ship was carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members when it left on Saturday. Winds and 30-feet-high waves tossed the ship around, causing damage to the vessel’s public areas and staterooms, the AP reports.

Storm damage to Anthem of the Sea
Twitter/Greg Cribbs

One man spoke to Good Morning America and recalled seeing the large waves from his family’s cabin.

“It was absolutely terrifying, we were on the third floor with an ocean view. We literally saw the ocean, with Dory swimming by,” he joked, referencing the Pixar character from Finding Nemo.

Footage obtained by ABC News showed the passengers leaving the ship amid cheers from expectant friends and family members.

“I’m alive,” one man proclaimed. “I’m alive. This is insane.”

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