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Carnival Freedom’s next two sailings canceled after funnel fire, second in 2 years

A fire in the Carnival Freedom’s exhaust stack this weekend disrupted a cruise for the second time in less than two years — and will result in the cancellation of the Florida-based ship’s next two sailings.

The damage to the funnel will require the cancellation of Carnival’s next two cruises from Port Canaveral, which were scheduled to depart Monday and Friday.

There were about 3,700 passengers on the ship when the fire broke out. And the two upcoming sailings, which were canceled, likely would have had similar passenger numbers in the middle of the busy spring break season.

Carnival initially said it did not expect any changes to its upcoming cruises, but said Sunday afternoon that cancellations would be necessary.

“Unfortunately, the damage is greater than we initially thought and will require immediate repair to stabilize the funnel, which will result in the cancellation of the March 25 and 29 cruises from Port Canaveral,” according to a released statement by Matt Lupoli, Carnival. Cruise Line Senior Director of Public Relations. “The funnel has been stabilized for the ship’s return to Port Canaveral overnight to disembark guests, then it will proceed to the Freeport Shipyard Monday afternoon to begin necessary repairs.”

Carnival said it made the decision after “our technical team conducted a thorough assessment” during the ship’s visit Sunday in Freeport in the Bahamas.

This photo shows damage to the Carnival Freedom cruise ship's exhaust funnel caused by a fire while it was at sea Saturday.This photo shows damage to the Carnival Freedom cruise ship's exhaust funnel caused by a fire while it was at sea Saturday.

This photo shows damage to the Carnival Freedom cruise ship’s exhaust funnel caused by a fire while it was at sea Saturday.

In the statement, Carnival said: “We sincerely regret the impact on our boarding guests, as we know they were looking forward to their spring break. We are offering all guests on both canceled cruises a full refund and 100% future cruise. credit, so they can come back and enjoy a future cruise with us. We also greatly appreciate the wonderful guests currently sailing with us, for their exceptional cooperation and support.

In a Facebook post, Carnival brand ambassador John Heald acknowledged that many people who booked one of the canceled cruises felt “very disappointed,” and he apologized for the turn of events.

But Heald added that he wanted to assure affected passengers that, “when you rebook, using your full refund and 100% future cruise credit, the crew will be ready to provide you with all the fun you deserve.”

More than 500 people responded to the post, with many saying they thought Carnival was being generous with the compensation offer. But some people who said they were on the cruise that suffered the fire said they think Carnival should have done more for the people who were on the ship.

Carnival said the fire was contained to the funnel area. The cruise line said no passengers were injured. Two members of the fire crew were treated for minor smoke inhalation.

Carnival said that around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, the Carnival Freedom reported a fire on the port side of the ship’s exhaust funnel. The ship was 20 miles off the coast of Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, heading to Freeport after a canceled port call to the private Carnival island of Princess Cays due to adverse weather conditions.

“The ship’s fire response team was quickly activated, and the ship’s captain also oriented the ship towards heavy rains in the area to maximize efforts to extinguish the flames,” said a previous press release from Carnival. “Eyewitnesses have reported the possibility of a lightning strike, and this is under investigation, but cannot yet be confirmed.”

Around 5:20 p.m. Saturday, the fire was out.

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Carnival said the ship’s captain made several announcements to passengers and crew and advised all but essential security personnel to stay away from balconies and open decks.

The port side of the chimney had fallen onto deck 10 and firefighters extinguished the flames.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the fire and Carnival activated its incident response team to support the ship’s crew.

Carnival said there were no other operational issues with the ship’s systems and that the ship, which was on a four-night cruise, was visiting Freeport on Sunday.

A cruise ship funnel typically serves as a chimney to raise emissions above deck, thus away from passengers and crew.

On Saturday evening, “Carnival Freedom guests enjoyed the Elegant Night dinner as planned and, with the exception of open decks, all areas of the ship are fully functional,” Carnival said in its statement.

The Carnival Freedom’s next voyage was scheduled to depart from Port Canaveral Monday afternoon for a five-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. This cruise featured planned stops at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

But this navigation and that of Friday were both canceled. Friday’s five-night sailing was also scheduled to stop at these two ports of call, but in reverse order.

In May 2022, a fire broke out in the funnel area of ​​the Carnival Freedom while docked in Grand Turk. Carnival then canceled three scheduled sailings of the Carnival Freedom from Port Canaveral due to the need to repair damage caused by the ship’s fire at a Grand Bahama shipyard.

Most recently, in October 2023, Carnival Freedom debuted a new iconic winged funnel after returning from a 16-day dry dock renovation in Cádiz, Spain.

Dave Berman is a business editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Carnival Freedom’s Next Two Cruises Canceled After Exhaust Funnel Fire