Carnival's Sensation Has Rocky Relaunch

March 28, 2006

Sensation, one of three ships in the Carnival fleet to have been chartered to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the past six months, experienced a rocky return to service at Port Canaveral last week.

To hear the dozens of readers who've written to Cruise Critic tell it, the voyage was a disaster from beginning to end. It started with a failed inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, which determined that there were problems in areas of fire-safety screen doors, fire-station valves and water-tight doors. The items were ultimately repaired and reinspected, and a Carnival spokesman said that "the work was certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and Lloyds Registry of Shipping, the world's leading ship classification society."

But the glitch delayed Sensation's departure by nearly seven hours (Carnival did provide all passengers with a $50 onboard credit and 25 percent off a future cruise to compensate for the long wait for boarding on Thursday).

To complicate matters further, the ship was not ready for prime time, according to passengers who contacted Cruise Critic, who mentioned problems ranging from rust-colored water to closed facilities. Sensation also was late arriving at the port of Nassau, which forced the cancellation of some shore excursions.

A report in today's Orlando Sentinel tells of an even more bizarre story in which Nathan and Jennifer Leslie, a couple from Winter Haven, Florida, complained so vociferously about various matters that the captain booted them off the ship in Nassau. They were forced to fork out cash for a hotel night there (though Carnival reimbursed them for airfare). We must admit we're a bit puzzled by a comment made by Mr. Leslie, for whom the cruise was meant to be a celebration of his return from Iraq. He was quoted in the article as saying "I feared for my life" in Nassau.

A Carnival spokeswoman notes that it's very unusual for the line to eject passengers from its ships.