MIAMI – Troy McCarty was one of the nearly 3,000 passengers nearing the end of their western Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Sensation when reports of a fire caused a panic early Monday.
"The fire alarms didn't go off at all, and I didn't see any crew members," McCarty said. "My sister-in-law was beating on our door a little after 3 this morning, saying, 'Get out! There's a fire!'"
Photos snapped by McCarty show crew members wearing fire gear and passengers evacuated to the main deck.
"You couldn't even see in front of you 6 (feet) when you exited the room, and it was hard to breathe," McCarty said.
It was the second major incident aboard the same journey. Just the day before, the ship skipped a planned stop in Mexico so the U.S. Coast Guard could airlift a sick worker to a hospital.
"We've never had it like this before," McCarty said. "I mean, there was always a little something, but not like this."
Carnival Cruise Line apologized to the upset passengers, but the company denied there had been a fire on board. The company said smoke was coming from a housekeeping storage area when first responders arrived, and that there was no fire.
But McCarty, an avid cruiser, isn't buying that statement.
"Where there's smoke, there's fire," he said.