Carnival Passengers Protest After Millennium Cruise Problems
Thursday, December 30, 1999
'Fun Ship' Becomes 'Fear Ship' After Paradise Propulsion Failure Turns Dream Vacation Into A Nightmare
About 200 passengers on a millennium cruise to the Caribbean protested at dockside in Nassau on Tuesday, complaining that engine problems on the Carnival cruise ship Paradise had turned their celebration into a "nightmare."
Paradise, carrying 2,600 passengers, developed an engine problem after leaving Miami on Sunday for a seven-day cruise, forcing Carnival Cruise Lines to cancel visits to islands in the eastern Caribbean in favor of stops in the nearby Bahamas and in Mexico. Passengers expressed concerns about the safety of the ship and complained the change of itinerary disrupted planned meetings with family and friends, crimping their millennium celebrations.
"This is a millennium cruise and it's becoming a millennium nightmare right now," said Richard Counts, a lawyer who headed a committee formed by passengers to pursue a possible lawsuit against Carnival. "As opposed to the fun ship, it's the fear ship right now."
The unspecified problem with one of Paradise's propulsion motors slowed the vessel to about 80 percent of its normal speed, forcing Carnival Corp. to cancel visits to the United States and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A Carnival spokesman said the ship was safe and would carry out all of its planned millennium celebrations.
"Other than the problem with the propulsion motor, all on-board operations are functioning normally and technicians are already on board the vessel fixing the problem," the company said.
Counts said some crew members indicated to passengers that they knew of mechanical problems on the ship before it left Miami on Sunday. But a spokesman for Carnival said the problem was discovered at about 3 a.m. on Monday, hours after the ship left port.
Passengers noticed "shaking" on the vessel after it departed from Miami, said passenger Mel Sachs, a New York lawyer and a passenger on Paradise. "We feel that we were misled and misrepresented and they didn't want to have us get off the ship because we paid excessive amounts of money to be on the ship and we did not get what we bargained for," he said.
"It's not what you would call a fun ship," said passenger Dinesh Sharma of Visalia, California. "They say there are engine problems. I wouldn't want to end up stuck in the middle of the ocean." Carnival said dissatisfied passengers could disembark in Nassau and would receive a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of their fare, while those who stayed on board would receive a credit of $100 per stateroom plus a 25 percent discount on a future cruise. - (Reuters)