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Tampa Bay Area passengers share experience during Carnival Freedom fire

Carnival Freedom fire and aftermath
Posted at 5:05 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 10:41:09-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Smoke and flames poured from a Carnival cruise ship Thursday, and passengers from the Tampa Bay Area who are still on that boat shared details of how they learned about the emergency on board.

“I heard some vibrations and rumbling, and I thought well that’s really loud. They must be turning around,” said Matt Gilmore.

Gilmore’s vacation turned into one he won’t soon forget. The Lakeland pastor and his family are sailing aboard the Carnival Freedom.

“I looked out the window, and there is black smoke just pouring out, just pouring out, and then I started seeing debris, and I went well that doesn’t look normal,” said Gilmore.

Carnival Freedom fire af
Aftermath of the Carnival Freedom fire on Thursday.

That’s because a fire broke out on the cruise ship.

Carnival said Thursday morning while in port at Grand Turk, Carnival Freedom’s emergency response team quickly activated and put out a fire inside the ship’s funnel. All guests and crew are safe.

“The people on the Mardi Gras, the ship over, were screaming, ‘Your ship’s on fire. Your ship’s on fire,” said Gilmore.

“They were having what I thought was just an emergency drill or something until the captain came in and was saying that there was an emergency on deck,” said Sharraye Rivers.

Rivers is from St. Pete and is also on the Carnival Freedom to celebrate her birthday.

“The Carnival Mardi Gras was docked next to us, so when I looked out the window, I could see the flames and the smoke from the reflection off of their boat, so that’s how we knew it was a fire," said Rivers.

Another Carnival ship will get to Grand Turk Saturday, and guests will transfer to that ship for the trip back to Port Canaveral.

“I felt a little better because we had just docked, so I think that helped ease me a little bit and we weren’t in the middle of the ocean,” said Rivers.