Carnival Sunshine was returning to Charleston on Saturday after a six-day Bahamas cruise when the ship was set upon by a storm. Torrential rains flooded the hallways of the ship and rough sea conditions made some passengers nauseous.
"You could smell people being sick walking down the halls," one passenger told The Daily Mail.
A Carnival representative said all of the passengers were safe during the incident.
"Carnival Sunshine's return to Charleston was impacted by the weather and rough seas on Saturday. Guests on board the ship were safe. Our medical staff helped a small number of guests and crew members who needed minor assistance," the company told WCIV. "The weather's prolonged impact on the Charleston area delayed the ship's arrival on Sunday, and as a result, the next voyage's embarkation was also delayed. We appreciate the patience and understanding of all our guests."
Some guests who experienced the voyage seemed more frustrated than patient.
"We didn't wait it out. We sailed right into [the storm] and spent 11 hours pitching, diving, and rolling," Sharon Tutrone, a professor at Coastal Carolina University and a passenger on board the Carnival Sunshine said on Twitter. "We were surrounded by lightning and the ship took a huge hit by a wave and sounded like it split in two."
In a follow-up tweet, she tagged Carnival and suggested that "maybe you should have a pilot onboard so we didn't have to sit and drift for 6 hours waiting."
After 14 hours of high winds, rain and massive waves. The ship took a hit from a wave that sounded like the ship split in two. The @Carnival Sunshine is finally in Charleston. @Carnival maybe you should have a pilot onboard so we didn’t have to sit and drift for 6 hours waiting.
— Sharon Tutrone (@SHARONTUTRONE) May 27, 2023
The aftermath aboard Carnival Sunshine after a severe storm.
The crew from Deck 0-4 evacuated to the theater, and anywhere they could rest… the crew bar destroyed. pic.twitter.com/MqsDJYvrSG
— Crew Center (@CrewCenter) May 28, 2023
Photos from the ship showed water rushing down hallways and stairwells, and on-board shops that look as though they've been ransacked due to the force of the storm.
Another traveler, Daniel Taylor, told The Daily Mail he went to see a show at an onboard venue shortly after the captain announced the ship would be traveling through inclement weather.
He recalled hearing the sound of the ship smashing against huge swells audible over the music.
"Stage lights mounted on the ceiling began to shake, the disco ball started swinging and the LED wall on the stage," which he estimated to be approximately 20ft wide and 3oft tall, "began rolling side by side on its own."
By 8pm on Friday evening the ship's crew began evacuating public decks. During the overnight hours between Friday and Saturday, the passengers lost internet connection, removing their ability to watch the weather on their own.
At 7:30am the next day, the cruise director reportedly confirmed to the passengers that the ship was at the harbour but needed to wait to dock.
The ship was finally docked again at 5:30pm on Saturday night, approximately nine hours past schedule.