(Reuters) - A Carnival Cruise Lines ship was stuck at a Caribbean port with equipment trouble on Thursday, a month after another Carnival vessel was disabled by a fire that trapped thousands of passengers at sea for days.
The incident is the latest black eye for an industry battered by problems ranging from norovirus outbreaks to the Costa Concordia accident in Italy in 2012 that killed 32 people.
Carnival Corp said the cruise ship Carnival Dream was stuck in port in St. Maarten after its emergency diesel generator malfunctioned during testing on Wednesday.
The problem caused temporary disruptions to elevator and toilet services but the ship, which was on a week-long cruise, never lost power, the company said.
CNN reported that passengers aboard the vessel had contacted the cable news channel complaining of power outages and overflowing toilets.
Carnival Corp said it was making arrangements to fly the passengers, via charter flights and regularly scheduled flights from the Caribbean island, to Orlando or their final destination. Passengers will get a refund equal to three days' worth of travel and half off a future cruise.
The Carnival Dream, which can carry 3,646 passengers and 1,367 crew according to the company website, is being held at dock while company engineers work on the problem.
The cruise industry has proven resilient in the face of a series of disasters. The Cruise Lines International Association projects that the number of people taking cruises this year will rise 3.3 percent. Carnival Corp and its smaller rival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, have said bookings are recovering from a slump following the Costa Concordia accident.
But a slew of headlines about mechanical problems and passengers stranded at sea without functioning toilets - coming at the busiest time of the year for bookings - could take a toll, especially if it deters potential first-time passengers.
"It's first-time cruisers that will have issues. This is definitely a PR (public relations) concern," said Morningstar analyst Jaime Katz. "This is some inflection point."
Carnival canceled the Carnival Dream's next voyage, which had been scheduled to start on Saturday. Its home port is Port Canaveral, Florida.
ON HEELS OF REVIEW LAUNCH
The latest incident comes two days after Carnival said it had launched a comprehensive review of its entire fleet following a fire that crippled its Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico last month.
An engine-room fire knocked out power and plumbing throughout most of the Triumph, which was carrying more than 4,200 people. Passengers described an overpowering stench in parts of the ship and complained that toilets and drainpipes had overflowed.
The Triumph eventually was towed into port in Mobile, Alabama, by tugboats.
The company has assembled teams of fire safety experts, naval architects, electrical and mechanical engineers and engine manufacturers to conduct its own investigation, Carnival Cruise Lines President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said on Tuesday.
The CLIA's web site said a typical cruise ship has more than 60 safety, environmental and health inspections annually. The U.S. Coast Guard inspects all cruise ships in the United States to certify compliance with federal and international regulations.
Over the weekend, another Carnival ship, the Carnival Elation, had to get a tug boat escort down the Mississippi River after a mechanical issue.
Carnival Corp shares were down 1.2 percent to $35.27 in midday trading in New York on Thursday.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins, Phil Wahba, Dhanya Skariachan and Kevin Gray; editing by John Wallace)
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