Passengers on board the Carnival Dream spoke of power outages and overflowing toilets on the cruise ship after it got stuck in the Caribbean.
The Carnival Dream was supposed to head back to Port Canaveral on Wednesday afternoon, but a mechanical issue with a diesel generator stranded the ship at St. Maarten, in the eastern Caribbean. It was the last stop on the ship's seven-day cruise.
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"The bathrooms are not working. They're backing up," said Gregg Stark, a passenger on the Carnival Dream, in a telephone interview. "The elevators have not been working. They've been turning them on and off, on and off."
Carnival Cruise Lines countered, saying the crew only had one request for cleaning of a private restroom.
Carnival has begun making alternate travel plans for those stuck on the cruise ship. Some of the 3,600 passengers will be booked on charter and scheduled flights from St. Maarten to Orlando. The cruise line did not immediately say when that would happen.
According to Carnival, the malfunction happened Wednesday during a regularly scheduled testing of the ship's emergency diesel generator.
There was no power loss to the ship's propulsion systems or primary power source, and Carnival said all guests were safe.
In an update posted Thursday morning on Facebook, Carnival Cruise Lines said:
"The Carnival Dream has a technical issue which our engineering team is currently working on. The ship is at dock in St. Maarten.
At no time did the ship lose power but there were periodic interruptions to elevators and toilets for a few hours last night. However, at this time, all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12:30 a.m.
The ship has full power, but is still at dock while personnel continue to work on the technical issue."
The Coast Guard was not involved, because the ship was moored -- or secured -- at St. Maarten, explained Petty Officer Sabrina Laberdesque.
Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Tom Weinberg said Port Canaveral will do anything they can for returning passengers.
Weinberg said he didn't believe the incident will affect future cruise attendance.
"Occasionally, these things happen," said Weinberg. "You've got mechanical things that can happen. I don't think it will deter people from cruising."
But some spring breakers returning to Port Canaveral on Thursday from a cruise on another Carnival ship, the Sensation, said after hearing what happened to the Dream, they might not be back.
"This is my first cruise, and we had a good time. But it does make me second guess booking another one," admitted Michelle Phillips, who was aboard the Sensation cruise.
"Overall we had a good experience," said Austin Penna of the Sensation cruise. "But I guess we were lucky to have a good cruise, considering something happened last night."
Carnival said guests on the Dream will receive a three-day refund and 50 percent off a future cruise.
The cruise line has also cancelled the Carnival Dream's upcoming trip from Port Canaveral that was set to leave Saturday, March 16.
"While personnel continue to work on the technical issue we are making arrangements to fly all guests home via private charter flights and scheduled flights from St. Maarten," Carnival said in a statement.
Wednesday's technical issue is not the first on the cruise ship. In July 2011, The Dream had issue in July 2011 with its thrusters, forcing a change in itinerary.
Just last month, a fire in the engine room of the Carnival Triumph left that ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with 4,200 people on board. What was scheduled as a four-day cruise turned into an eight-day nightmare involving overflowing toilets, food shortages and foul odors. Tug boats had to tow the crippled ship to port in Mobile, Alabama.
Carnival Dream Questions & Answers
Source: Carnival Cruise Lines - Thursday, March 14, 2013
Q: What is going on with Carnival Dream? What happened?
A: "While at dock in St. Maarten yesterday, the ship’s engineering team conducted a regularly scheduled test of the ship’s emergency diesel generator. A malfunction occurred which has rendered the emergency generator inoperable. At no time did the ship lose power and the ship’s propulsion systems and primary power sources were not impacted. However, for a period of time last night, there were interruptions to the elevators and restroom services. Toilets and elevators are currently working, and have been since about 12:30 a.m."
Q: Where was the ship when the problem occurred?
A: "The Carnival Dream was at dock in St. Maarten during a regularly scheduled port of call visit and remains there currently. All passengers are safe and comfortable."
Q: Did the ship lose power?
A: "At no time did the ship lose power and the ship’s propulsion systems and primary power sources were not impacted."
Q: Why is the ship not able to sail back to Port Canaveral?
A: "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 back up emergency generator."
Q: Are the toilets and elevators working?
A: "Toilets and elevators are currently working, and have been since about 12:30 a.m."
Q: Is it true that toilets were overflowing and sewage on floors, in hallways, etc.?
"We have had multiple conversations with the ship’s management team. 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. Aside from that there have been no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage. The toilet system had periodic interruptions yesterday evening and was fully restored at approximately 12:30 a.m. this morning."
Q: Are guests allowed to get off the ship?
A: "Guests have the option to get off the ship to visit the port of St. Maarten until their scheduled return home. We have also arranged complimentary water taxi service for guests who wish to explore other areas of the island."
Q: What is going to happen with the guests from here?
A: "All guests are being flown via a combination of commercial and private chartered air to either Orlando, which is the closest air gateway to Port Canaveral, or to their final destination depending on their individual needs."
Q: Is it true that Carnival is flying everyone to Miami and putting them on buses?
Q: What kind of compensation will they receive?
A: "Guests on the current voyage will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage and 50 percent off a future cruise."
Q: Are you cancelling future cruises?
A: "We have cancelled the ship’s next voyage which is scheduled to depart on Saturday, March, 16. Guests scheduled to sail on this cruise will receive a full refund and 25 percent off a future seven-day cruise. Guests who re-book will have their current rate protected on the future sailing. Additionally, any non-refundable transportation related expenses will be reimbursed."
Q: How many passengers and crew are onboard?
A: "There are 4,363 guests and 1,370 crew on Carnival Dream."
Q: What are you doing to help passengers without passports?
A: "We have already addressed this issue with the relevant authorities and the guests will not have an issue traveling without passports."