Carnival flying stranded cruise passengers home

March 14, 2013 - 5:29 PM

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (AP) — Passengers from the cruise ship Carnival Dream headed to the airport Thursday instead of sailing home after an on-board generator problem halted their trip in the latest maintenance headache for the world's largest cruise line.

The Dream was in St. Maarten on the final stop of a Caribbean cruise when the crew announced it would not be sailing home to Port Canaveral, Florida, because of a mechanical issue with a diesel generator, passengers said.

Carnival Cruise Lines said the Dream had a "technical issue" with its backup emergency diesel generator that was discovered during a test Wednesday. A company statement said that the ship did not lose power but that there were periodic interruptions to elevators and restrooms.

Carnival said all systems were functioning normally Thursday but the company decided to get the passengers home by air.

Passengers strolling about the Dutch Caribbean town of Philipsburg told The Associated Press that the power and water were out for 10-20 minutes, contradicting media reports of longer outages and unsanitary conditions.

"We have toilets. We have water. It's no different than a regular day at sea," Tasha Larson, 31, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said after disembarking with her boyfriend to spend the day in St. Maarten.

An engine fire last month crippled another Carnival ship, the Carnival Triumph, leaving 4,200 people stranded for five days without working toilets or power.

Passengers Mary and Terry Washington of Tampa, Florida, said they were grateful because the malfunction gave them an additional day to spend in St. Maarten. "The plumbing is fine. The food is fine. Everything is fine," Mary Washington said.

Another passenger, Tammie Knapper of Hedgesville, West Virginia, said she also preferred another day in St. Maarten to the risk that the ship could encounter problems as sea. "It's better that we are here than in the middle of the ocean," she said.

St. Maarten offered to assist with police escorts for moving passengers to the airport.

"We would not want them to encounter any delay, discomfort or setback," said Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin, who visited the ship Thursday.

The Dream was on a seven-day cruise of the Caribbean with 3,646 passengers. The ship's March 16 voyage from Port Canaveral has been canceled.