Stranded Carnival passengers arrive in Orlando
Updated On: Mar 15 2013 06:09:09 PM EDT
The first flight full of passengers from the crippled Carnival Dream, which is stuck in St. Maarten after reporting generator issues, landed Friday afternoon at Orlando International Airport.
At least nine Delta charter flights were expected to land throughout Friday and Saturday. Travelers will be bused to Port Canaveral to pick up their cars.
Some travelers tell Local 6 they had just minutes notice to get to the St. Maarten airport.
"I'm worried about my mother who is handicapped. and they just said she's got 30 minutes to get downstairs and she hadn't even packed," said Kim Griggs, who said their 22 person group got split up on the flights. "So I had to leave her behind. I didn't even get to say goodbye to her."
St. Maarten airport officials tell Local 6 they donated free food and drinks to make the passengers' experience memorable.
"We just wanted to make sure all the passengers from the carnival dream feel welcome," said Kalifa Hickinson of Princess Juliana Airport. "We want to make sure that they're OK, that they know that we care about them as well. If there's any place to be stranded, this is the place to be stranded."
For the most part, passengers seemed content with Carnival's handling of the incident.
"They took very good care. I have no complaints," said Leslie Hancock, who added she doesn't usually like to fly but doesn't have a choice in this situation. "When I get home, I'm rebooking again."
The Carnival Dream, based in Port Canaveral and in the middle of a 7-day cruise, reported technical issues with its emergency diesel generator during routine testing earlier this week while docked in St. Maarten, according to cruise officials.
Carnival officials said there were "periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours" on Wednesday night. Passengers told CNN there was "human waste" all over the floor in some bathrooms and they're overflowing."
According to Carnival, all of the nearly 4,300 guests were "safe and comfortable."
Carnival said voyage guests will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage, as the trip was expected to extend through next Saturday. Tourism officials in Brevard County tell Local 6 about 95 percent of the hotel rooms are booked and there's very little room for people with canceled cruises, but Carnival officials have tried to keep everyone happy.
"There were Carnival people at every single place, directing us to where to go, come out on this bus, get your baggage over there," said passenger Jean Van Vranken.
Carnival also canceled its next voyage and notified the passengers via emails and phone calls. But Richard LeBlanc says he didn't get the notification as he drove from Canada to Port Canaveral.
"I feel like disgusting, a bit, I guess Carnival has something wrong with their boat," said LeBlanc.
Meanwhile, another Carnival ship reported technical issues on Friday, resulting in the cancellation of port visit. The company says the Carnival Legend is experiencing a technical issue with one of the ship's Azipod units, which affects the vessel's sailing speed.
Carnival Legend is currently on the last leg of a 7-day Caribbean cruise that departed Tampa on Sunday, March 10.
The latest report of ship malfunctions makes it the third in the past month, after an engine room fire left the Carnival Triumph crippled and adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people aboard in February.
That scheduled four-day cruise stretched into eight days as tugs pulled the vessel into port in Alabama. Food was scarce and passengers sweltered in the heat with no air conditioning. People aboard also reported overflowing toilets and human waste running down the walls in some parts of the ship.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Carnival Corporation in the aftermath.
Watch Local 6 for more on this story.