Passengers aboard a cruise ship docked in Grand Turk Island got a surprise that wasn’t on the itinerary Thursday.
As photos and video taken aboard the Carnival Freedom illustrate, black smoke and flames poured out of the ship’s funnel as passengers donned life jackets and were evacuated from the vessel’s upper decks.
"On Thursday morning while in port at Grand Turk, Carnival Freedom’s emergency response team quickly activated and extinguished a fire inside the ship’s funnel," said the cruise line in a statement. "All guests and crew are safe, and all other ship, hotel, and guest services, along with safety equipment are fully functioning."
According to the statement, most of the ship's 2,504 passengers were ashore at the time the fire broke out.
Plans were soon made to get all guests back to Port Canaveral in Florida, where they originally set sail from Monday for what was meant to be a 5-day cruise. But since Freedom won't be seaworthy in time for an already delayed departure, those arrangements required the cancellation of another Carnival cruise.
"Carnival Conquest’s next cruise, departing May 27 from Miami has been cancelled and that ship will be deployed to Grand Turk to transport Freedom guests back to Port Canaveral," the company explained. "Carnival Conquest will arrive to Grand Turk on Saturday, May 28 and guests aboard Carnival Freedom will transfer to Carnival Conquest for the voyage back to Port Canaveral, arriving on Monday, May 30."
Carnival Freedom's next scheduled cruise, originally planned for Saturday, has also been cancelled.
Repairs are set to begin on the ship's funnel after all passengers are off the ship.
The statement closed, noting, "Carnival apologized to all those guests who are impacted and offered special thanks to the crew who handled the situation on the ship effectively and according to safety protocols."
It remains unclear what caused the fire.