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Cruise ship passengers back in Jax after scare at sea

Officials confirm Carnival Elation lost power, propulsion offshore

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Passengers aboard the Jacksonville-based Carnival cruise ship Elation got a scary wake-up call about 1:45 a.m. Monday: the captain saying the ship had lost power and propulsion and was adrift about 60 miles offshore.

Panicked passengers grabbed life vests and ran to the deck.

"I will keep you posted," the captain said over the public address system. "There is no concern right now. I will keep you posted."

Passengers said they were very concerned and that they never really got an explanation as to what was happening and why.

"We got people sitting out (at) 2 o'clock in the morning thinking the ship is going down," passenger Bridgette Carmichael said.  

Carmichael said the information they were getting from the ship's crew members was vague. The only thing they knew for sure was the power cut on and off several times.

"We were kind of asking each other what's going on? Did you hear anything?" Carmichael said. "We didn't know and the captain didn't seem very confident when he did come on the air. It was a really scary feeling."

According to a U.S. Coast Guard official, an air compressor went out on one of the air conditioning units. When the crew tried to reset the system, it shorted out the power to the propulsion system. It didn't last longer than an hour and they ended up using power from the emergency generators to get back into port.

While it was a very uncomfortable situations for passengers, the Coast Guard said there was never any threat to the safety of the ship.

The Coast Guard said it boarded the ship Monday to make sure it was safe before it sailed on its next cruise, which was scheduled for late afternoon.

In a statement, Carnival Cruise Lines called it a short power outage.

"The ship's technicians promptly restored power and the ship is expected to arrive at his homeport of Jacksonville at approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning, slightly behind schedule," Vance Gulliksen wrote.

Passengers say they noticed lights on the ship flickering on and off around four times around 1:45 a.m. Monday. Some passengers were seen headed toward the deck in a panic, with their life jackets on.

The Elation replaced the Fascination last month, sailing on two- and five-day trips to the Bahamas from JaxPort's Dames Point Cruise Terminal. It can accommodate 2,054 passengers.