HOUSTON -- Another Carnival cruise ship has faltered, the third in a week for the troubled fleet that drew national attention last month when the Carnival Triumph broke down in the Gulf of Mexico, stranding more than 4,200 passengers who had to be towed back to shore.
The nation’s largest cruise company announced Friday that the Carnival Legend was unable to sail at optimal speed off the coast of Honduras, bringing an early end to the seven-day Caribbean cruise for 2,500 passengers and 930 crew members who set sail from Florida last Sunday.
“Carnival Legend is experiencing a technical issue with one of the ship’s Azipod units that is affecting the vessel’s sailing speed. The ship's safety systems and hotel services are all functioning normally,” Carnival officials said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times. The Azipod units are used to propel and steer the ship.
The vessel made its scheduled call Thursday in Mahogany Bay, Roatan, in addition to visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya earlier in the week. Because of the reduced sailing speed, Carnival officials canceled the Legend’s scheduled visit to Grand Cayman on Friday so the ship could immediately return to port in Tampa, Fla., according to the statement.
Guests on the Legend will receive a $100-per-person credit, a refund on pre-purchased shore excursions for Grand Cayman and half off a future Carnival cruise, the statement said.
About 1,500 miles away in St. Maarten on Friday, passengers on the Carnival Dream were being flown home after their cruise from Port Canaveral, Fla., stalled at port with a generator problem Wednesday. Conditions seemed a far cry from the Triumph: St. Maarten airport officials tweeted photos of the welcome committee greeting passengers at the airport, while others said they were taking it easy and enjoying the island.
Carnival officials said the Dream never lost power, but admitted there where problems with elevators and toilets Wednesday after some passengers complained, posting comments online.
Late Thursday, Carnival flew Grammy-winning singer Jon Secada to the Dream to perform for stranded passengers. Passengers will receive a refund for the last three days of the voyage and half off a future cruise.
The Carnival Elation also ran into problems last weekend with its Azipod units and had to be escorted back to port by a tugboat as it began its voyage from New Orleans last Saturday, Carnival officials said. In a statement, they said the Elation had “a minor issue with the steering function of one of its two Azipod units,” that both units were operational but “the steering function of one has been temporarily taken offline until it can be repaired. The ship is designed to be able to steer with only one Azipod unit, they said.
"In the interest of extreme caution, we requested that a tugboat remain alongside the ship as it maneuvered away from the dock and into the river in New Orleans," the statement said, stressing that the ship was not being towed. "The tugboat trailed the ship down the Mississippi for good measure, although it was not needed. The ship's full itinerary is expected to operate normally."
The latest problems are a reminder of the drama that played out last month, when the Carnival Triumph was crippled by an engine fire in the Gulf of Mexico during a four-day cruise, stranding 3,141 passengers and 1,086 crew for five days during which many complained about power outages, broken toilets and food shortages.
In its earnings release Friday, the Miami-based company said advance bookings for 2013 are behind the same point a year earlier. Carnival stock closed Thursday at $35.73, up less than 1%.