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Carnival Ship Stuck In St. Maarten

MIAMI (AP) – More problems for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines after another of the ships develops engine problems mid cruise.

The Carnival Dream, which was on the return leg of a seven day excursion, is now docked in St. Maarten.

U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sabrina Laberdesque said Thursday that Carnival Dream's captain notified the agency of trouble with the ship's propulsion system. The ship's emergency generator, which powers propulsion for ship, has reportedly failed. The Coast Guard said they have been reassured by the ship's captain that their main generator and sewage systems are unaffected by the failure.

A statement from the company acknowledged the problem but emphasized that at no time did it completely lose power.

"The Carnival Dream has a technical issue which our engineering team is currently working on. The ship is at dock in St. Maarten. At no time did the ship lose power but there were periodic interruptions to elevators and toilets for a few hours last night," according to the statement.

Passengers on the ship reported to CNN that the toilets were overflowing.

"The bathrooms are not working, they are backing up, the toilets are backing up.  The elevators have not been working, they've been turning them on and off," said passenger Kris Anderson early Thursday morning.

He added that ship personnel were not being allowed off the ship.

Later in the morning Anderson said the bathrooms were working again – but there were still problems.

"The toilets were off for quite some time. I think the problem that people might be having with the toilets backing up is that it's a similar situation with your toilet at home if it gets clogged. If you flush it repeatedly the water will keep coming up and coming up. Where if you flush it once, see it's not working and close the lid and forget about it you're not going to be in trouble.  So, they were out of service for quite some time, for several hours."

"Based on the ship's service logs and extensive physical monitoring of all public areas, including restrooms, throughout the night, we can confirm that 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," said Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen. " Aside from that there have been no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage.  The toilet system had periodic interruptions yesterday evening and was fully restored at approximately 12.30am this morning."

The cruise ship has a capacity of 3,646 passengers.

Andersen stressed that while the toilet situation was inconvenient, they were in pretty good shape.

"This isn't a Triumph situation.  We are at port, we are here in St. Maarten, we have full power, the air conditioning is working fine, the toilets are working again and they are serving hot food. It's essentially business as usual.  We are just here at the port instead of at sea.  We were supposed to have two days at sea to take us back to Port Canaveral where we originally departed from."

Anderson said the crew did a pretty good job of keeping the passengers informed of what was happening.

"They made the announcements ahead of time 'We're turning off the elevators for the next five or ten minutes, please avoid the elevators'.  They've been very proactive in making the announcements during all of the problems," said Anderson.  "A lot of folks, if you didn't hear the announcements you would probably have no idea there was any problem other than the fact that we were sitting in a port in St. Maarten."

Carnival said they are making arrangements for all passengers to be flown to Orlando.

"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," according to a statement. "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.

Last month an engine fire crippled the Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 4,200 people were left without working toilets or power for several days as the ship was towed to Mobile, Alabama.

An investigation found that a leak in an oil return line which ran from one of the engines to the fuel tank was the source of the fire.

During this week's Cruise Shipping Miami conference on Miami Beach, Carnival CEO and president Gerry Cahill said their highest priority will be to look at the "learnings and potential changes" which can be made in the wake of the Triumph cruise ship.

"I can assure you that since this fire occurred, it's been the No. 1 priority for both Carnival Cruise Lines and Carnival Corp.," Cahill said.

Cahill also promised a comprehensive review of all 23 of their ships. The review, which Cahill said would take some time to complete, is focusing on the prevention, detection and suppression of fires as well as engine room redundancies.

Carnival Cruise Lines owns both the Triumph and the Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the coast of Italy a year ago, killing 32 people. Carnival also owns the Splendor, which was stranded at sea for several days in 2010 after a fire.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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