Fire-Damaged Funnel Causes Carnival to Cancel Future Sailings

In the wake of Saturday afternoon’s fire aboard the Carnival Freedom, the cruise line has announced how future sailings will be impacted. Not surprisingly, the ship will be taken out of service for repairs, which means the next two sailings will be cancelled.

Carnival Freedom 2023 fire lightning strike
Carnival Freedom funnel on fire. Photograph courtesy of Heath Barnes.

What Happens Next

In a statement posted to Brand Ambassador John Heald’s page, Carnival Cruise Line acknowledged that the ship “experienced a fire in the port side of the exhaust funnel on Saturday. Our onboard team acted quickly to contain and put out the fire. While we continue to investigate multiple eyewitness reports of a lightning strike, our technical team completed a thorough assessment during the ship’s visit to Freeport.”

Initially, Carnival speculated that future cruises might be able to take place. That, however, is not proving to be the case. “Regrettably,” the statement went on to say, “the damage is more than we first thought and will require an immediate repair to stabilize the funnel, resulting in the cancellation of the March 25 and March 30 cruises from Port Canaveral.”

Carnival Freedom Funnel
In October of 2023, the Carnival Freedom received her new funnel. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

So what will happen over the next few days? “The funnel has been stabilized for the ship’s return to Port Canaveral overnight to disembark guests,” Carnival reports, “and then it will go to the Freeport shipyard on Monday afternoon to begin the required repairs.” Aware of how much this last-minute change will disrupt vacation plans, Carnival is providing those who’d expected to sail on the now-axed voyages both a full refund and a 100 percent Future Cruise Credit.

So far, there has been no word on whether or how those on board at the time of the incident might be compensated.

“People Were Panicking”

Fire is, of course, one of the most dangerous situations which can take place on a ship, especially when — as was the case with the Freedom — the vessel is at sea. As one on-board guest reported on Heald’s Facebook page, “People were panicking and upset, as it took several hours to [extinguish] the fire. It was pretty nerve-racking to say the least!” Ultimately, they added, “We are thankful the fire was stopped and nobody was hurt.”

Cruise followers will no doubt recall that this same ship suffered a strangely similar nearly two years ago when the funnel caught fire. In the wake of that incident, the iconic “whale tail” was removed entirely and not replaced until October of 2023, a full 17 months later.

READ NEXT: “Incident” Leaves Two Crew Members Dead On Cruise Ship

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