Howard said he and his family weren't told until 1:45 a.m. Friday they had to get off the ship by 7:30 a.m., so they had to rush to pack in the middle of the night.
A message from the captain
Dream passengers received a letter from the captain, according to a passenger who e-mailed a photo of the correspondence to CNN.
Capt. Massimo Marino told passengers they would be booked on flights to Orlando or another destination. Passengers with cars at Port Canaveral would be bused from Orlando to the facility about an hour away.
"We sincerely apologize for the disappointment this unexpected change has caused and regret we were unable to provide you with the fun and memorable cruise vacation we had in store for you," he wrote.
The letter also offers passengers a three-day refund and a half-price cruise in the future.
Crisis communication expert Tom Donahue said Carnival may be making the right operational decisions. But the frequency and effectiveness of communications to passengers -- who have no other information source -- are what influences the passengers' perspective.
Like the Carnival Legend, the Carnival Elation suffered problems with its Azipod, a crucial part for steering and propelling a vessel.
A tug boat trailing the ship as it travels on the Mississippi River is "purely a precautionary measure," the company said.
Memories of the defeated Triumph
In the most publicized case, an engine room fire last month left the Carnival Triumph crippled and adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people aboard.
That scheduled four-day cruise stretched into eight days as tugs pulled the vessel into port in Alabama. Food was scarce, passengers sweltered in the heat with no air conditioning, toilets overflowed, and human waste ran down the walls in some parts of the ship, passengers reported.
A class-action lawsuit against Carnival Corp. followed.
The Triumph is still being repaired at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said.
Last week, Carnival announced it was conducting "a comprehensive review" of all 23 of its ships after the fire that crippled Triumph.
Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said the investigation will focus on the prevention, detection and suppression of fires, engine room redundancies and what additional hotel facilities might be provided and might run off the emergency generators.
"We are now focused on the lessons we can learn from the incident and also what additional operational redundancies might be available," Cahill said last week.
Another ship, the Carnival Splendor, had a fire in 2010 due to "a catastrophic failure of a diesel generator," he said.
Despite all the recent problems, Donahue doesn't see any long-term negative effects for Carnival or its competitors.
"I don't necessarily see (last) week's events, or even combined with the Triumph event, as casting a pall on the cruise industry," he said, noting that several colleagues and friends who have recently gone on cruises, including on Carnival, enjoyed their vacations.
"People generally accept that complex pieces of equipment can encounter challenges. That's not the hurdle. I don't think anybody considering the cruise would be unforgiving of an unforeseen event, because those types of events occur with complex systems. People are far less forgiving (when) communications around the events seem to be lacking."