HOUSTON — Carnival Cruises has another stalled ship, this one beset with an emergency power malfunction, and is preparing to fly passengers home from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. A passenger on the Carnival Dream, based in Port Canaveral, Fla., notified the Coast Guard in Miami on Thursday morning that the ship was having problems. After the Coast Guard began investigating, ship officials notified them that the trouble was their emergency diesel generator, which powers the ship's propulsion system, according a Coast Guard spokeswoman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque. The ship had stalled during a seven-day cruise before docking at St. Maarten, she said.
News of the Carnival Dream's troubles comes a month after the Carnival Triumph made headlines when it lost power during a four-day Mexican cruise out of Galveston, Texas. The outage stranded more than 4,000 passengers and crew, and the ship had to be towed out of the Gulf of Mexico to Mobile, Ala.
Without power for nearly a week, that cruise quickly degenerated into a misery ship with reports of sewage running down walls, food shortages and passengers forced to sleep in makeshift tents on deck.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Carnival officials at the company's headquarters in Miami confirmed that 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.," the statement said.
Someone claiming to be a passenger on the ship posted on the Cruise Critic message board that the mechanical problem wreaked havoc with some services: "At first, no toilets or elevators. Those back on but 'mechanical' issues."
The cruise line said problems with the ship's power and toilets have been addressed.
They cited "periodic interruptions" in the ship's toilet system Wednesday evening, but said only one public restroom had to be closed for cleaning after a toilet overflowed and one passenger requested that a cabin bathroom be cleaned.
"Aside from that there have been no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage," the statement said.
The Carnival Dream left Florida Saturday with about 4,300 passengers and 1,300 crew members, scheduled to stop in Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten before returning to Port Canaveral on Saturday. It was supposed to leave St. Maarten on Wednesday, officials said.
Carnival said it is making arrangements to fly passengers home from St. Maarten on commercial and private jet flights. Passengers will receive a refund for the remaining three days of the cruise and half off a future cruise.