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Carnival flying passengers home after malfunctioning backup generator strands Dream at port

Carnival Cruise Lines said Thursday it would pay to fly Carnival Dream passengers home because the ship was stuck at port in St. Maarten with a malfunctioning backup generator.

Carnival will fly guests either to Orlando or their hometown, spokesperson Vance Gulliksen told NBC News. It is also giving guests a refund for three days of travel and offering half off a future cruise, he said.

Gulliksen confirmed one public restroom was taken offline because of toilet overflowing and there was one request for cleaning a guest cabin bathroom. "Aside from that there have no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage," he said. "All hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12.30 a.m."

The Dream never lost power, but suffered “periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours last night.” said Carnival spokesperson Lanie Morgenstern. "The ship has full power but is still at dock while personnel continue to work on the technical issue.”

The ship was scheduled to leave port on Thursday and was due back at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday.

Passengers strolling about the Dutch Caribbean town of Philipsburg told The Associated Press that the power and water were out for 10-20 minutes, contradicting media reports of longer outages and unsanitary conditions.

'Everything is fine'
"We have toilets. We have water. It's no different than a regular day at sea," Tasha Larson, 31, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said after disembarking with her boyfriend to spend the day in St. Maarten.

Passengers Mary and Terry Washington of Tampa, Florida, said they were grateful because the malfunction gave them an additional day to spend in St. Maarten. "The plumbing is fine. The food is fine. Everything is fine," Mary Washington said.

Another passenger, Tammie Knapper of Hedgesville, West Virginia, said she also preferred another day in St. Maarten to the risk that the ship could encounter problems as sea. "It's better that we are here than in the middle of the ocean," she said.

St. Maarten offered to assist with police escorts for moving passengers to the airport, AP reported.

"We would not want them to encounter any delay, discomfort or setback," said Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin, who visited the ship Thursday.

Carnival canceled the ship's March 16 voyage and refunding those guests' tickets in full. Those travelers will also receive 25 percent off a future cruise and be able to purchase tickets at the same current rate.

"We are very sorry for this disruption to our guests' vacation plans and extend our sincere apologies," said Gulliksen. "We look forward to welcoming them back on another Carnival cruise."

Brand tarnished?
The problem comes less than a month after passengers disembarked the Carnival Triumph after several days stranded at sea with backed up toilets and limited food after an engine-room fire left the vessel without propulsion.

Carnival Cruise Lines President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said earlier this week that the company had launched a comprehensive review of its entire fleet after a fire crippled the Carnival Triumph, Reuters reported.

Last week, Harris Interactive released a report showing significant declines in consumers’ views of the major cruise brands and predicted choppy waters ahead for the industry.

The poll, conducted Feb. 19-21, compared consumers’ perceptions of cruising after the Triumph incident with data collected Jan. 11-Feb. 8. In addition to showing significant drops in perceptions of quality and trust for most major cruise lines, the industry as a whole suffered a 6-percent drop in purchase intent between the two polls.

Carnival took the biggest hit, posting a 13-percent drop in purchase intent.

NBC News contributor Rob Lovitt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.