Passengers on other ships started posting photos and videos after 8 a.m. Carnival released a statement at 8:45 a.m. saying the ship’s emergency response team “quickly activated and extinguished a fire.” The Miami-based operator said everyone onboard — 2,504 guests and 972 crew — was safe. Passengers were allowed to leave the ship to spend the day in Grand Turk.
The cause of the blaze was not clear, and the cruise line did not say how much damage was caused.
But Carnival said in a statement Thursday afternoon that “all other ship, hotel, and guest services, along with safety equipment are fully functioning.” After an initial assessment of the damage, the company said the ship will go to Freeport, Bahamas, for repairs.
The blaze and its aftermath were a far cry from the infamous 2013 fire on the Carnival Triumph, which started in the engine room while the ship was at sea. In that case, the ship lost power and drifted. It became known as the “poop cruise” because of the waste disposal issues that result when a vessel with thousands of people onboard loses power.
The next Carnival Freedom cruise, scheduled for Saturday from Port Canaveral, has been canceled. Passengers will stay onboard while a sister ship, the Carnival Conquest, makes its way to Grand Turk from Miami to pick up passengers and bring them back to Port Canaveral on Monday. The next trip for that ship, scheduled to leave Friday, has also been canceled. The next Conquest voyage, which was intended to leave Miami on Monday, will instead depart Tuesday.
“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 company’s statement said.
The Freedom passengers’ situation is reminiscent of the experience guests had on the Norwegian Escape in March. In that incident, the ship ran aground and passengers ended up being flown home under sometimes-chaotic circumstances days later. Many who were stuck on land awaiting flights watched the ship depart without them.