Carnival Sends Evacuation Ship After Fire Aboard Carnival Freedom
Carnival Cruise Line reported that it is sending a ship to Grand Turk to evacuate the passengers after the fire yesterday aboard the Carnival Freedom. While the fire teams were able to extinguish the fire containing the damage, technical teams reported that the ship needs to head to the shipyard at Freeport for repairs.
“In order to get you home as soon as possible, we have made arrangements to send Carnival Conquest to Grand Turk to sail back to Port Canaveral,” wrote Captain Mario Imbimbo in a letter distributed to passengers on the Carnival Freedom. “We understand this extends the time you had planned to be away from home and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this delay may cause you.”
A Carnival support team arrived at Grand Turk yesterday evening to further survey the damage and make arrangements for the 2,504 passengers on the current cruise. A preliminary assessment was being conducted at the airport in Grand Turk for the possibility of charter flights to transfer the passengers from the cruise ship, but an airlift would require shuttling passengers on smaller planes. Instead, Carnival elected to send a sister ship, the Carnival Conquest, to transfer the passenger back to Florida. The Carnival Conquest was returning today to Florida from a cruise, and after disembarking her passengers this morning immediately departed from Miami for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The current plan calls for the Carnival Conquest to arrive at Grand Turk on Saturday, May 28 in the late afternoon. Passengers and their luggage will be transferred between the two ships and since they are sister ships passengers will be receiving comparable stateroom assignments on the new ship. The Carnival Conquest will depart Grand Turk Saturday evening and is due to arrive in Port Canaveral on Monday, May 30. The Carnival Freedom cruise had been scheduled to end in Florida on May 28.
Government officials and the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies met with the support team from Carnival and the ship. They are reporting that the vessel is operating on full power but that access to portions of the outdoor decks has been restricted. Only the trunk lines emerging from the funnel were left on the starboard side and photos show portions of the interior of the funnel also exposed after pieces collapsed during the fire.
To facilitate the evacuation of the passengers, Carnival was forced to cancel today’s cruise on the Carnival Conquest and shorten it by one day for the next cruise. The upcoming cruise on the Carnival Freedom was also canceled while the ship will proceed to Grand Bahama where it will undergo a further assessment and repairs.