ORLANDO, Fla. - More passengers who were aboard the stranded Carnival Dream cruise ship are being flown to Orlando International Airport on Saturday.
Nearly a dozen flights have already brought hundreds of Carnival Dream passengers back to Port Canaveral through OIA. The flights began arriving at the airport from St. Maarten early Friday afternoon.
Carnival has chartered flights to haul the 4,363 passengers back to the United States. A lot of the passengers have already flown into Orlando International Airport and continued on to Port Canaveral. Some passengers have been flown directly to their final destinations, Carnival officials said.
The first flight carrying passengers on Saturday is expected to arrive at OIA around 12:15 p.m. The planes will continue to depart St. Maarten for Orlando throughout the day Saturday.
Carnival officials said they expect to have everyone on their way home by Sunday.
Carnival went to great lengths to keep passengers happy while they were stuck in St. Maarten. The cruise line even provided a free concert by '90s Latin singer Jon Secada and offered a free water taxi service for those on board who wanted to visit other parts of the island.
A few passengers have tweeted that they had a good time despite the issues with the ship.
One person tweeted that he was "still having a blast," and another said, "They are doing everything possible to handle the issue."
Web Cam: Cruise ships docked in St. Maarten
Some passengers told WFTV communication with ship staff was at times difficult. They said schedules were unclear and changes were being made with little notice.
"They haven't communicated to us since day one and they need to be held accountable for this," said cruise passenger Jonathan Evans.
A large team from Carnival flew into St. Maarten to help get their guests off the ship.
The first wave of passengers was escorted by police from the ship to Princess Juliana International Airport, but the reality of how their trip is ending doesn't seem to faze them.
"It wasn't that bad," said passenger Mandy Cassells.
"Spent an extra day on the beach."
"Who doesn't mind being stranded on St. Maarten in the Caribbean?" said passenger Cristin Gonzales.
During regularly scheduled testing of the ship's generator on Wednesday, a malfunction happened, officials said. The ship did not lose power and the propulsion systems were not affected, according to officials.
"There were periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours Wednesday night, but all hotel systems are functioning normally," Carnival said.
The four-year-old ship made stops in the Bahamas and St. Thomas before arriving in St. Maarten. The ship was supposed to leave the island on Wednesday to return to Port
There's no word on when the Dream will return to port, but the ship's
next voyage has already been canceled. It was scheduled to depart Saturday.
Guests scheduled to sail on that cruise will receive a full refund and 25 percent off a future seven-day cruise, officials said. Passengers on the current cruise will get a refund equal to
three days of the trip and 50 percent off a future cruise.
Carnival Cruise Lines being helped out by the U.S. State Department. A lot of people on the cruise do not have passports -- you don't need one for a cruise -- but you do need one for a flight. The State Department waiving that and allowing those from the cruise to get home.