Miami-based Carnival Corp. can’t seem to get a break. Less than a month after a fire on Carnival Triumph grabbed headlines across the globe, another ship, the Carnival Dream, experienced “technical problems” in the Caribbean island of St. Maarten where passengers remained stranded Thursday evening awaiting flights back to Orlando on specially chartered planes.
Carnival says while at dock Wednesday in St. Maarten on the last leg of a seven-day voyage, the engineering team on the Port Canaveral, Fla.-based Dream “conducted a regularly scheduled test of the ship’s emergency diesel generator” when “a malfunction occurred,” rendering the emergency generator inoperable.
A spokesperson denied reports that the ship lost power or that its propulsion systems were affected, but confirmed that “for a period of time last night, there were interruptions to the elevators and restroom services.” The spokesperson said that all elevators and toilets had been working since about 12:30 a.m. and that all passengers were “safe and comfortable.”
“While the ship’s propulsion systems and primary power source were not impacted, in an abundance of caution, we prefer not to sail with guests on board without an operational backup emergency generator.”
Carnival has provided free water taxi services for guests to explore St. Maarten while they wait for their scheduled return home, and will offer each guest on the current Carnival Dream sailing a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage, in addition to 50 percent off a future cruise.
“We sincerely apologize for the disappointment this unexpected change has caused and regret we were unable to provide you with the fun and memorable cruise vacation we had in store for you," Captain Massimo Marino wrote in a letter to passengers.
Carnival Dream’s next sailing on Saturday has been canceled, and all guests scheduled to sail on that cruise will receive a full refund and 25 percent off a future seven-day cruise.
Carnival Dream is one of the largest ships in Carnival’s fleet, and 4,363 guests and 1,370 crew members were affected by the latest incident.
Early reports indicated that the situation on the Dream was similar to that of the Triumph.
“There’s human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they’re overflowing -- and in the state rooms,” Carnival Dream passenger Gregg Stark told CNN.
“We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms onboard,” another passenger complained to the news outlet. “The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take an hour has turned into seven-plus hours.”
Carnival Corp. has denied the severity of these claims.
“Based on the ship’s service logs and extensive physical monitoring of all public areas, including restrooms, throughout the night, we can confirm that only one public restroom was taken offline for cleaning based on toilet overflow and there was a total of one request for cleaning of a guest cabin bathroom,” a spokesperson said.
The world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corp. announced at an annual cruise industry conference in Miami Tuesday that it was in the midst of a “comprehensive review” of its 23 ships after the fire on Carnival Triumph last month left passengers stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for days as the vessel was towed back to the U.S. mainland. On that ship, food was scarce, cruisers baked in the sun with no air conditioning and reported human waste running down the hallways.
Passengers on the Triumph filed a class action lawsuit against the company in the aftermath, and the ship is still undergoing repair at a shipyard in Alabama.
Carnival Cruises President and CEO Gerry Cahill assured that the new probe would look at the prevention, detection and suppression of fires, engine room redundancies, and which facilities might be provided and run off of the emergency generators.
“This review is very comprehensive, it will take us a little bit of time to complete it, but you can rest assured that it is our highest priority throughout the entire organization,” he said. “It is the thing we are most focused on and we will come up with solutions that we can implement across our fleet.”