Carnival Freedom catches fire; cruise line to send 2nd ship to bring guests home to Port Canaveral

Carnival Cruise Line/Carnival Cruise Line/TNS
·3 min read

A Carnival Cruise Line ship that sails out of Port Canaveral became a spectacle Thursday morning with its iconic smokestack funnel engulfed in flames while docked in Grand Turk.

Carnival Cruise Line officials said in a statement the ship’s “emergency response team quickly activated and extinguished a fire inside the ship’s funnel while the ship was in Grand Turk. All guests and crew are safe, and the ship’s guests were cleared by local authorities to go ashore.”

Photos posted by Twitter user @AirborneJM showed black smoke and orange flames billowing out of the starboard side of the red-white-and-blue funnel.

“Carnival Freedom caught fire in Grand Turk while docked this morning. Praying there are no injuries and everyone will be safe,” reads the post.

The ship was alongside Mardi Gras, which also sails from Port Canaveral, and images and video of the incident poured in on social media.

Twitter user @Budman922 said in a post, “Shortly after the Carnival Freedom arrived in port next to us on the Mardi Gras, smoke and flames began to shoot out of the exhaust funnel. The crew quickly started to battle the fire to extinguish it. A partial piece of the funnel fell from the top deck while smoke and ash flew in the wind. Luckily the wind was blowing away from our ship. The crew did a great job as it appears the fire did not spread any further than where it was.”

While the majority of the 2,504 guests went ashore, Carnival’s teams assessed the severe damage, images of which showed the charred and gutted remains of the of the funnel system with the exhaust pipes exposed.

“Carnival’s technical team completed an initial assessment of the funnel and related features, and the shoreside team completed a plan to get our guests back to Port Canaveral,” the line stated in an update.

With the funnel out of commission, the cruise line is sending Carnival Conquest out of Miami so it can come to the island and return Freedom’s guests to Port Canaveral. Conquest’s planned sailing Friday has been canceled so it can arrive to Grand Turk on Saturday for a delayed return to Port Canaveral on Monday.

“Once guests are transferred from Carnival Freedom, the ship will proceed to Freeport for a repair to the funnel,” the line added.

The need for repairs means the May 28 sailing of Freedom from Port Canaveral has been canceled. Also, Carnival Conquest’s Miami departure on May 30 will be delayed one day to May 31. Freedom’s next available sailing on the line’s website is June 2, but future sailings could also face cancellation depending on how long repairs take.

Before Conquest’s arrival, guests can still use the rest of Freedom’s services while in port as all hotel and guests services on board along with safety equipment remain fully functioning, the line stated.

The ship was also sailing with 972 crew.

“Carnival apologized to all those guests who are impacted and offered special thanks to the crew who handled the situation on the ship effectively and according to safety protocols,” the line stated.

The 110,000-gross-ton, 952-foot-long ship debuted in 2007 and sails four- and five-night Bahamas and Caribbean voyages.

It departed Port Canaveral on a five-night cruise on Monday and had been slated to return to the port on Saturday.

Also Thursday morning, the cruise line was dealing with reports of a chemical smell that caused sickness on passengers on board Carnival Magic, which was sailing into Norfolk, Virginia. The U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ship to investigate but said there was no immediate distress.