A local tour group, Day Trips and Tours, is on board the malfunctioning Carnival Dream cruise ship docked at St. Marteen (also called St. Martin) in the Caribbean, according to an employee of the business, Ronda, who declined to give her last name.
According to a statement released by Carnival, the Dream ship docked at St. Marteen on the last leg of the seven-day cruise. During a routine inspection, emergency backup generators were malfunctioning. As a safety precaution, the cruise was halted. The ship did not lose power and propulsion systems were not impacted.
The statement said that the elevators and restrooms experienced “periodic interruptions” for a few hours on Wednesday evening, but at release time yesterday afternoon, “all facilities were fully operational.”
Ronda confirmed that a group 40 people, including Day Trips and Tours’ owners Larry and Malinda Sobe, were on the cruise. Other names of the passengers were not released, due to privacy issues.
The news came in on Thursday morning, as Ronda arrived to work. She said she was filling in at Day Trips and Tours for her mother-in-law, Luann Smith, who was on the cruise. “I heard a voice mail when I arrived at the office…it was the adult daughter of one of our group asking if I had been watching the news. She said her parents were both on the cruise. My first reaction was that it was just old news, but then I watched CNN and got on Carnival’s website and it was true.”
Ronda said she has been in contact with Larry and Malinda Sobe via email and phone calls.
“The last time I heard from them was around 4 p.m. yesterday when Malinda called. She said conditions on the ship were good; they had power, air conditioning, plenty of food, and they were allowed to get off the ship yesterday and go back to the port if they wanted…they were still sleeping on the ship.”
Carnival Cruise was arranging for everyone to fly back to Florida, according to the company statement. The Day Trips and Tour group, according to Ronda, was expected to fly back to Florida soon where they will board their tour bus and return to town.
Ronda said after hearing about the incident, she called all the emergency contact numbers for the members of the tour group. She informed them that their family members and loved ones were safe and would return soon. Several emergency contacts had not spoken to anyone and the situation was unknown before she called. Others already had been in contact with their loved ones on the ship; Ronda said Carnival had set up free phone banks to use if the passengers did not have cell phone access, which was limited.
“Since then, I’ve had several adult kids of some of the tour group call and ask me to email and ‘tell Mom to call us’ because they hadn’t heard from anyone.”
The tour group was calm and said everything was working properly, according to Ronda, and they “even sounded like they were having fun.”
The group may even have the chance to take a trip in the future — according to Carnival’s statement, all 4,363 guests on board Carnival Dream “will receive a refund equivalent to three days of the voyage and 50 percent off a future cruise.”
Reach Jessica Johnson at email@example.com or 719-1933.