Carnival Freedom passenger onboard during fire recounts 'dangerous, terrifying' experience

Carnival Freedom will be back in service once funnel repairs are completed, spokesman confirms

A passenger who was onboard the Carnival Freedom during the cruise ship's second fire in less than two years over the weekend recounted a frightening experience at sea.

The blaze, which occurred Saturday, ignited on the port side of the ship's exhaust funnel, casually known as the "whale tail." Initial information from Carnival about the fire came on X, confirming that the fire broke out at 3:15 p.m. ET while the ship was 20 miles off Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. 

"A fire in the middle of the ocean is one of the most dangerous things that I can possibly think of," Tambra Jones of Virginia told Fox Business. "It was terrifying." Jones recalled that her eyes and chest were burning as a result of the fire, and that smoke was "everywhere."

Carnival noted that the port side of the funnel fell onto one of the ship's decks during the incident.

CRUISES CANCELED FOLLOWING CARNIVAL FREEDOM FIRE DURING BUSY SPRING BREAK SEASON

Carnival Freedom collapsed funnel

Part of the Carnival Freedom's funnel that collapsed onto an open deck.  (Tambra Jones)

Jones considers herself a veteran cruiser and has been sailing with Carnival since 2009. She said she did not know that the Freedom had been involved in another fire in May 2022 before she booked her March 21-26 voyage.

"Had I had that information prior, I would have done more research," she said. "I wouldn't have put myself in that type of situation had I known. All information should be divulged." 

Jones also alleged that the ship was not well-equipped to handle fires.

"Stepping on the Freedom with hoses that can't reach every aspect of that boat in the event there's a fire is putting your life on the line," she said. 

When asked about the hoses, Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli noted that the crew put out the fire, and he said that the ship turned into a storm in order to get help from the rain.

Jones claimed she was considering legal action against Carnival, but she has not brought any action against the cruise line yet. Lupoli did not address potential litigation.

CARNIVAL FREEDOM CRUISE SHIP CATCHES FIRE FOR SECOND TIME IN LESS THAN 2 YEARS

Carnival Freedom route second fire

Carnival's onboard television provides maps that show the ship's traveled route.  (Tambra Jones)

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The cause of the fire remains unclear. Carnival acknowledged that some witnesses reported a lightning strike, and said they were investigating. Jones is skeptical of this theory.

"Lightning did not hit that boat," Jones insisted. "I was sitting there watching it." Both she and the Carnival spokesman say the Freedom turned into a storm during the fire on March 23 to assist in fighting the flames. Jones said she was observing the situation from her cabin on the ship's live video feed, and claims that she saw smoke before any lightning. She also said that she never saw lightning strike the ship.

Jones said some people were blocked out of their rooms during the fire.

Two cruises this week were canceled as a result of the damage, Lupoli said. The ship was sent to the Freeport shipyard so work could be done to stabilize the funnel. It will be put back into service once repairs are completed, Lupoli said Wednesday. 

CARNIVAL FREEDOM CRUISE SHIP SEEN ON FIRE AT GRAND TURK

Carnival Freedom in storm

Screenshot from a video provided showing the weather conditions once the Carnival Freedom turned into the storm to assist in fighting the fire.  (Tambra Jones)

Carnival provided a refund and a 100% future cruise credit to those impacted by the March 25 and March 29 cancelations from Port Canaveral. However, Jones said, guests who experienced the fire first hand have not been given anything. Lupoli said it was because their cruise "went as planned," and that the "crew worked very hard to give them a good time." 

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"We greatly appreciate our terrific guests for their outstanding cooperation and support," Lupoli said.