Carnival Cruise Ship Catches Fire for Second Time in 2 Years After Passengers Report Lightning Strike

The incident marks the second time in two years this particular ship has caught fire. It has caused the cancellation of two upcoming voyages



The 'Carnival Freedom' coming into Port Canaveral Monday morning

A Carnival cruise ship’s exhaust funnel caught fire on Saturday during a trip to the Bahamas, causing the company to cancel its next two voyages.

This is the second time in less than two years that the Carnival Freedom, based in Port Canaveral, Fla., has been impacted by a fire.

"Regrettably, the damage is more than we first thought, and will require an immediate repair to stabilize the funnel, resulting in the cancellation of the March 25 and March 29 cruises from Port Canaveral," Matt Lupoli, Carnival Cruise Line's senior manager of public relations, told Florida Today in a statement. "The funnel has been stabilized for the ship’s return to Port Canaveral overnight to disembark guests, and then it will go to the Freeport shipyard on Monday afternoon to begin the required repairs."

PEOPLE has reached out to Carnival, but did not immediately hear back.

While the cause of the fire is still being investigated, Carnival noted in a post on X Saturday that eyewitnesses reported the possibility of a lightning strike.

One of the cruise’s passengers, Heath Barnes, posted footage of the incident on Facebook Saturday afternoon.

In a statement to TMX, Barnes said it had been storming on and off and he was on one of the ship’s upper decks when he experienced “the loudest thunder and lightening [sic] I have ever heard.”

<p>MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY / USA TODAY NETWORK</p> The smoke stack of the ship was damaged.


The smoke stack of the ship was damaged.

After he returned to his cabin for about 15 minutes, his nephew and two friends came to tell him the ship was on fire.

“I thought they were giving me a hard time but I got up and went out on the balcony and sure enough the flames and smoke was pouring out of the tail,” he continued, adding that he took the videos from his balcony before travelers were asked to stay indoors.

Related: Carnival Cruise Ship Catches Fire During Visit to Turks and Caicos Islands

Carnival's brand ambassador John Heald addressed the incident on Facebook, acknowledging that those impacted by the cancellations “will be feeling very disappointed.”

“And I want to add my apologies and my assurances that when you rebook using your full refund and your 100% future cruise credit, that the crew will be standing by to give you all the Fun you deserve,” he added.



Related: 2 Holland America Line Crew Members Killed During Onboard 'Incident' in the Bahamas

In May 2022, the Carnival Freedom caught fire during a five-day cruise to Turks and Caicos.

At the time, Carnival Cruise Line verified that a fire broke out in the funnel of the ship while it was in Grand Turk.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

The company said its "emergency response team quickly activated and extinguished" the flames.

"All guests and crew are safe, and the ship's guests were cleared by local authorities to go ashore," Carnival added.

The 948-foot Carnival Freedom, built in 2007, can hold just over 3,500 passengers, according to Cruise Mapper.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.