For some, it was no big deal, for others, it was an uncomfortable experience.
I was one of the ones a bit uncomfortable.
As I said, the power failure began at approximately 10pm. We were just finishing our coffee in the Golden Olympian Dining Room (830pm seating) when all the power went out, and within a few seconds, the emergency lighting went on.
Within a few minutes, John Heald, the Cruise Director was on the PA System announcing that it was a minor power problem, and the engineers were working on it and power was expected to be restored soon. he said that this sort of thing happens occasionally on ships and there was nothing to be worried about.
I turned to my waiter and asked if he's ever experienced this before, and he shook his head, no.
I work for a hotel in NYC and went through the power failure in 2003. I know emergency generator power only will last so long (and we had no idea HOW long that would be on the ship). I also know that emergency power is only driving selected systems, and other, non essential systems, are not backed up. Again, its what we, as passengers, didn't know, was what made me nervous.
I suggested to my friends that we go to an open deck and leave the dining room immediately. Frankly, I didnt want to be in and environment with uncirculated air and prefered to breathe fresh air under the circumstances.
We went out to the Lobby, and out on the outside promenade area. There were people in the main lounge. The first thing we noticed was the ship was not moving. We couldn'f feel the vibrations of the engines. That was eerie.
That also made me a bit more nervous. It wasnt just the lights, but the propulsion too...
Now, I know the engineers probably were determining why the power went off, and they knew what was going on, and chances are, they were gradually restoring systems so as not to overload the system, but we couldnt be sure. We only knew what we were told.
John repeatedly came on the PA system to give us updates. At one point, he told everyone not to smoke cigarettes because the ventillation was off (In retrospect, this was a bit ironic because this was the same night as the Star Princess Fire).
Despite all the announcements, there was no mention of the ship's engines being off and that we were apparently drifting.
John definitely did his job at trying to keep everyone calm.
It's a little disconcerting, however, when you can only rely on what you are told. Passengers really dont know exactly how long the ship would be on emergency power..... There's probably a limit to how long the emergency power can last, and passengers dont know what that limit is. There is that sense that things are beyond your control. For me, I don't like that feeling.
Its also uncomfortable because IF problem was really serious, Im not sure they would have told us that right away. It's John's job to keep the passengers calm and to not panic. He succeeded.
I think I would have preferred if John adressed the fact that the ship was not moving. Ive concluded that propulsion must come from the same power source. IF anyone wants to clarify, that would be great.
There are SO many systems that require power - vacuum flushing, a/c, ventilation, water purification, sewage treatment, lights, elevators, refrigeration, etc.... One wonders which systems were affected more than we heard about... I was a bit worried about all that food for 4,000 or more people that needs to be refrigerated or frozen.
By 11, power was gradually seen coming back to certain areas. Lights, a/c, ventilation, etc... By 12:15 or so, we were underway at half speed. When I went to bed at 12:45, we were moving at 10 knots.
The next morning, we were due to arrive in Panama at 7am. We didnt arrive until 9:30am. As a result, the ship excursion to travel the Panama Canal was cancelled because the later canal slots were filled with other boats. I think there were a lot of disappointed people. I wasn't one of them. We had booked a private tour and the tour guide was waiting for us when we arrived.
Anyone have any comments?