ST. MAARTEN - Carnival Cruiseline is chartering private planes to fly home the thousands of passengers stranded on the Carnival Dream cruise in St. Maarten.
Several passengers on a Carnival Dream cruise tweeted and communicated with the media earlier Thursday morning, reporting that they were stuck on a malfunctioning ship just one month after a fire crippled another Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ship left from Port Canaveral, Fla. on Saturday, and officials confirmed that an issue with the generator postponed their departure from St. Maarten, located in the northeast Caribbean.
( Live video aboard cruise ship can be seen here: http://bit.ly/WJkOgE )
While a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson said it didn't impact the "personal effects" of the vessel, some of the 4,000+ passengers said they have been stuck on a ship with overflowing toilets and power outages while docked at port in St. Maarten, CNN reports. ( http://wfts.tv/Ybb1y0 )
One man told CNN that he has seen human waste on the floors.
Approaching nearly a full day since the ship has been stuck at St. Maarten, the cruise line decided to charter private planes to passengers respective locations, and have offered discounts for future cruises. They are also canceling a cruise that was scheduled to depart Saturday.
The following statement was released from Carnival Thursday at noon:
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 12.30am .
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 cancelling 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.
The captain reported to the USCG the ship is operating on its main generator, but the emergency diesel generator that is used to propel away from the port is out because the main cable is damaged.
The ship was scheduled to leave port at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, but well into Thursday, they were still trapped on the ship.
Some said they couldn't use the bathroom and weren't allowed to leave the vessel, however, Petty Ofc. Public Affairs Specialist Sabrina Laberdesque said the reason passengers couldn't leave was related to accountability of the passengers.
Had the ship been repaired earlier and the captain was ready to depart, locating thousands of passengers who may have exited the vessel could have caused additional complications.
Just a few weeks ago, passengers returned from a cruise gone wrong when a four-day Carnival Triumph trip turned into an eight day ordeal, where passengers were stranded at sea without power. ( http://wfts.tv/X9y4I0)
Officials say passengers on the Carnival Dream are safe, the ship is communicating with the main Carnival office in Miami and repairs are underway.
There is no estimated time on when the repairs will be completed.
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