PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Passengers from the Carnival Dream were heading to the airport Thursday instead of sailing home after an on board generator problem halted their trip in the latest maintenance headache for the world's largest cruise line.
The Dream was in St. Maarten on the final stop of seven-day Caribbean cruise when the crew announced that they would not be sailing home to Port Canaveral, Florida, because of a mechanical issue with a diesel generator, passengers said.
Several passengers told The Associated Press that power and water were out for about 10-20 minutes on Wednesday evening, contradicting media reports of longer outages and unsanitary conditions.
"We have toilets. We have water. It's no different than a regular day at sea," said 31-year-old Tasha Larson of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after disembarking with her boyfriend to spend the day in St. Maarten.
Passengers Mary and Terry Washington of Tampa, Florida, said the generator malfunction gave them an additional day to spend in St. Maarten.
"The plumbing is fine. The food is fine. Everything is fine," Mary Washington said.
Carnival Cruise Lines said the ship encountered a technical issue with its backup emergency diesel generator during the scheduled port and that they would make arrangements for the 3,646 passengers aboard the stranded ship Dream to fly home.
The Dream's March 16 voyage from Port Canaveral has been canceled.
Travel documents are starting to arrive in state rooms. Over 3,000 passengers onboard were told that they will "begin" flying out Friday morning from Small St. Maarten Airport, which has Saturday flight restrictions.
As a result, passengers who don't make it out Friday will have to wait until Sunday.
Eventually, scheduled and chartered flights will take passengers to Orlando and/or their final destinations.
Passengers were allowed to disembark Thursday and tour St. Maarten. Kris Anderson, a passenger onboard the Carnival Dream, says otherwise, things are pretty status quo and everything is in working order.
Passengers also all seemed to be taking things in stride with a formal dinner onboard the ship Thursday evening. Jon Secada flown in just to perform two shows onboard as a treat for passengers.
An engine fire crippled the Carnival Triumph in February, leaving 4,200 stranded for five days without working toilets or power.
Thursday morning, Carnival officials released the following statement:
"The Carnival Dream has a technical issue with the ship's backup emergency diesel generator which our engineering team is currently working on. Yesterday, during regularly scheduled testing of the ship's emergency diesel generator, a malfunction occurred. At no time did the ship lose power and the ship's propulsion systems and primary power source was not impacted. The ship is at dock in St. Maarten. All guests are safe and comfortable. 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.
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. Guests on the current voyage will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage and 50 percent off a future cruise.
We are also canceling 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.
Yesterday was a scheduled port of call visit to St. Maarten. Guests were able to spend the full day in port and have the option of continuing to do so until their scheduled return home. All of the ship's activities and facilities are fully operational.
We are very sorry for this disruption to our guests' vacation plans and extend our sincere apologies. We look forward to welcoming them back on another Carnival cruise.
The Carnival Dream was on the last leg of a seven-day cruise and was docked in St. Maarten when the technical problem arose. The ship is based in Port Canaveral, Fla."
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