PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - A month after a cruise ship was crippled in the Gulf of Mexico, another Carnival cruiseliner is experiencing generator issues, prompting officials to fly passengers from the Caribbean back home.
The Carnival Dream, based in Port Canaveral and in the middle of a 7-day cruise, reported technical issues with its emergency diesel generator during routine testing, while docked in St. Maarten, according to cruise officials.
Carnival is making arrangements to fly all guests home on private charter flights and scheduled flights from St. Maarten. Many, if not all, of the flights are expected to travel into Orlando on Delta Airlines, the earliest on Friday morning. The cruise line will then bus the passengers to Port Canaveral to pick up their cars.
Norm Atkins of A&A Discount Cruise and Travel inc. said she has already gotten some calls from people figuring out how to get home.
"Basically we haven't had a lot of trouble, granted Carnival has had two incidents in last six weeks which is unfortunate, but there are worst places to be then St. Maarten," said Atkins said.
The Dream, which can carry more than 5,000 passengers and crew, sailed from Port Canaveral on Saturday. The crew will remain in their usual cabins on board, officials said.
Carnival said voyage guests will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage, as the trip was expected to extend through next Saturday.
"We are very sorry for this disruption to our guests' vacation plans and extend our sincere apologies," Carnival said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming them back on another Carnival cruise."
Gregg Stark, who is traveling with his wife and two young children, told CNN, "There's human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they're overflowing -- and in the state rooms. The elevators have not been working. They've been turning them on and off, on and off."
Carnival officials said there were "periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours last night. However, all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12:30 a.m."
According to Carnival, all guests are "safe and comfortable."
Officials described the technical issue as a "malfunction" and says at no time did the ship lose power.
"We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms on board," Jonathan Evans of Reidsville, North Carolina, said in an email early Thursday. "The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take an hour has turned into 7-plus hours."
Carnival is also offering guests 50 percent off a future cruise and will reimburse any non-refundable transportation-related expenses.
Last month, an engine room fire left the Carnival Triumph crippled and adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people aboard.
That scheduled four-day cruise stretched into eight days as tugs pulled the vessel into port in Alabama. Food was scarce and passengers sweltered in the heat with no air conditioning. People aboard also reported overflowing toilets and human waste running down the walls in some parts of the ship.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Carnival Corporation in the aftermath.
Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit was filed Thursday seeking damages for 17 passengers of the crippled Triumph. The plaintiffs are all Texas residents who claim they were physically harmed and fearful for their lives. The ship cruises out of the Port of Galveston.
The suit, at least the fourth to be filed against Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines, argues that Carnival overreaches in protecting itself against liability.
Local 6 spoke to some cruisers at Port Canaveral on Thursday about how the two incidents are affecting their trips.
"That makes me nervous," said Melinda McIntyre of Georgia. "It's terrible, it's gonna cause a lot of problems, complications with people in work, school."
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