Despite some passengers getting sick on Carnival cruise, brand-new set of passengers boards in Norfolk

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Posted at 9:06 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 22:37:04-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Dozens of passengers disembarked from the Carnival Magic at Norfolk's Half Moone Cruise Center Thursday morning, with dozens more people scheduled to board the ship Thursday afternoon.

However, as the cruise ship traveled back to Norfolk Thursday, News 3 received reports of a strong odor that led some to get sick.

One of the passengers we spoke with told us the smell was so overwhelming it scared her.

Another passenger shared cell phone video of the chaos from other passengers concerned about a strong smell on the cruise ship.

"This is not normal, this is not normal," passengers could be heard saying in the video.

Cruise passengers are now demanding answers from Carnival employees.

"If it was safe, why are you guys willing to relocate us to different cabins with less than 12 hours to go, for us to feel better?" one passenger asked.

The odor that caused some to get sick was described as smelling like "chlorine and bleach."

But hours later, new passengers — including News 3's Angela Bohon — boarded the same ship, just hoping to have a good time.

"I lost my mom on Mother's Day unexpectedly," said Candy Samuel, a passenger on the Carnival Magic. "She was supposed to be on this cruise with me, so we're just trying to find some pick-me-up and still celebrate her life."

Some people were even aware of the strong smell, but it didn't deter them from boarding.

"Things happen and you can't live your life afraid to move on," said Georganna Cross, another passenger.

But the passengers from the previous cruise had a much different experience, and they tell us despite desperate requests from passengers to end the week-long voyage early, Carnival refused.

A passenger told us one man started seizing due to the smell.

"They have no protocol of what to do with this," said Vanessa Burgard. "It took them over 45 minutes to respond to the guy having a seizure."

The City of Norfolk hopes for smooth sailing because they count on these cruises to bring in big bucks.

"From an economic standpoint, I understand that it's estimated at $22 million for all the cruises that come into Norfolk," said Kurt Krause, the president of Visit Norfolk.

With many people traveling to Norfolk's port, Krause said the city is working to address any concerns from passengers about the strong smell to ensure they come back to travel through Norfolk.

"We're not in a position to compensate or to do any of that. We just try and talk to the people and get them to understand that this occurrence was not because of food, it was not COVID-related," Krause said. "What we know per the Coast Guard is that this occurrence is because of paint fumes."

Carnival sent us a statement saying that the odor was linked to an exterior panting project that happened Wednesday. Carnival officials said the ship's crew quickly reacted and provided assistance to the guests who needed it.

News 3 also reached out to the Coast Guard and we've been told that they are looking into the incident.