Pool water spilling over, plates flying, and screaming and crying passengers frantically locating their life vests.
That was the scene aboard Carnival Sunshine Sunday when the ship listed, or tilted, shortly after leaving Port Canaveral for a five-day Caribbean cruise.
“I didn’t think anything of it, since it’s not uncommon for ships to rock back and forth,” Sunshine passenger David Crews told Orlando television station News 6. “But it didn’t rock back. It kept leaning. Plates and silverware started sliding off the tables. Then the tables themselves started to slide. Glasses and plates started to fall and shatter. At this point, it was pure chaos. Screams. Cries. Panic.”
When the ship returned to Port Canaveral Friday, one passenger described the experience to News 6 as a scene from the Titanic. Others complained of cuts and bruises.
Carnival said the safety of the passengers was never in question. “Carnival Sunshine experienced a technical issue which caused the ship to list for approximately one minute,” the cruise line said in a statement. “We remain confident of the safety of the ship as we are committed to the safety of our guests and crew.”
In a letter to passengers obtained by News 6, the captain explained that the ship tilted because of a malfunction with the fin stabilizers. “It’s important to note that fin stabilizers are not a safety feature; they are deployed solely for guest comfort to minimize any potential ship motion while at sea,” the letter said. “There was never any issue with the safe operation of the ship, and our officers quickly intervened to correct the situation.”
Some passengers were not reassured and decided to get off the ship and return home when the ship reached the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, the cruise line told Yahoo.
Previously called the Carnival Destiny, Sunshine received a $155 million renovation in 2013 after 17 years at sea.