Published March 14, 2013
Another Carnival cruise liner is experiencing problems with its propulsion system amid reports of power outages and overflowing toilets while docked in the Caribbean, one month after a fire crippled the Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico.
Carnival officials, in a statement to FoxNews.com, said the ship has a "technical issue" with its backup emergency diesel generator that is currently being worked on by its engineering team.
“Yesterday, during regularly scheduled testing of the ship’s emergency diesel generator, a malfunction occurred,” the statement read. “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.”
Approximately 4,300 passengers and roughly 1,100 crew members were aboard the ship, a Carnival spokesman told FoxNews.com.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman in Miami told the Associated Press Thursday that Carnival Dream's captain reported possible trouble with the ship's propulsion system. Petty Officer Sabrina Laberdesque said the ship has sewage and power and officials are working to correct the problems. She says the Coast Guard is not involved because the ship is moored.
Carnival officials said in a statement that they “can confirm only one public restroom was taken offline for cleaning based on toilet overflow and there was a total of one request for cleaning of a guest cabin bathroom. Aside from that there have been no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage."
As engineers work on the technical issue, arrangements are being made to fly all guests home via private charter flights and scheduled flights from St. Maarten. Passengers will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage and 50 percent off a future cruise, Carnival officials said.
The ship’s next voyage, scheduled for Saturday, has also been canceled. Guests scheduled to sail on that cruise will receive a full refund and 25 percent off a future seven-day cruise. Any non-refundable transportation related expenses will also be reimbursed.
Multiple passengers aboard the Carnival Dream told CNN.com of the unpleasant unfolding situation while docked in port at Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
"We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms on board," Jonathan Evans of Reidsville, N.C., said in an email early Thursday. "The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take an hour has turned into seven-plus hours."
Gregg Stark, who is traveling aboard the 1,004-foot liner with his wife and two children, said “human waste” was found on the floor of some of the ship’s bathrooms and that some toilets had overflowed. The ship also had mechanical issues, he said.
"The elevators have not been working,” Stark told CNN. “They've been turning them on and off, on and off."
Several passengers told The Associated Press, however, that power and water were out for just 10-20 minutes on Wednesday evening, contradicting 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, N.C., after disembarking with her boyfriend to spend the day in St. Maarten.
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," Mary Washington said. "The food is fine. Everything is fine."
Ship officials announced over the liner’s public address system that they were trying to fix the problem and were working on the generators. A few hours later, another announcement was made, saying the problem was worse than expected, Stark said.
The Dream had been scheduled to leave port at about 5 p.m. ET Wednesday after sailing from Port Canaveral on Saturday.
Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival spokesman, told CNN late Wednesday he wasn't aware of a problem. In a message posted on its Facebook page later Thursday, Carnival said there were brief interruptions to elevators and toilets Wednesday night.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Carnival Corp. following last month’s fire in an engine room that crippled the Carnival Triumph, leaving more than 4,200 passengers without power or working toilets for five days.
A Coast Guard official said a leak in a fuel oil return line caused the fire that disabled the massive 14-story vessel.
Cruise industry expert Andrew Coggins, a former Navy commander who is now a professor at Pace University in New York, said the fire could potentially have been serious.
"The problem is the oil's under pressure," he told the Associated Press. "What happens in the case of a fuel oil leak where you have a fire like that is it leaks in such a way that it sprays out in a mist. In the engine room you have many hot surfaces, so once the mist hits a hot surface it will flash into flame."
Carnival's latest incident, meanwhile, highlights the "inherent vulnerabilities" of taking a cruise, Miami-based maritime attorney Robert Peltz told FoxNews.com.
"Fortunately this latest incident occurred close to a port, but it does underscore the inherent vulnerabilities of cruise ship travel," Peltz said in a statement. "When a ship loses power while at sea, its passengers and crew are at severe risk for injury or death. Far too often, ships left without power are left at the mercy of unstable currents and unpredictable weather. The cruise industry needs to go beyond lip service and take meaningful steps to ensure this dangerous problem does not continue to keep occurring."
FoxNews.com's Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this report.