Cruise Ship Delayed in Bomb Scare, "Miscommunication"

March 28, 2010
Carnival Sensation Update, 5:29 p.m. EDT: A Carnival spokeswoman tells us guests who needed to change flights were instructed to proceed to the Guest Services desk for assistance; they were provided with a letter for the airlines. Carnival Sensation is expected to depart on its next cruise today as planned, though was still visible at press time on the Port Canaveral Web cam.

A report from Reuters this afternoon indicates that a drunk passenger was arrested on bomb hoax charges. Ibrahim Khalil Zarou, 31, of Leesburg, Virginia, allegedly said, "We are jihad. Come to the top deck and watch the bomb."

(11:15 a.m. EDT) -- An early morning bomb threat -- which has since been deemed a hoax, according to a Carnival Cruise Lines statement -- delayed Carnival Sensation's arrival in Port Canaveral today by about five hours.

The 70,367-ton, 2,052-passenger ship is on the last leg of a three-day Bahamas cruise roundtrip from the port.

The statement indicates that the Coast Guard and the FBI were called in to investigate the claim and that a shipwide search was conducted. "The threat turned out to be a hoax as no bomb was found," the statement reads. "An investigation by Carnival security personnel indicates the bomb threat was reported to the ship by a guest who claims another guest made the threat."

Indeed, the FBI told Orlando news station WESH 2 that "there was no evidence of anything criminal" and that it was all "probably a miscommunication between two people."

The ship remained about four miles offshore while the investigation was underway. It was cleared to proceed at 10:45 a.m. EDT and is now en route to its berth. We were unable to obtain additional comment from the Coast Guard or the port by press time.

Also, at this point, we do not know whether any assistance will be provided to those passengers who may have missed flights homeward because of the delay.

Interestingly, a similar hoax impacted the same ship -- almost exactly three years ago to the day.

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor