Q&A

What the Car­ni­val Tri­umph fi­asco means for po­ten­tial cruis­ers.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - BY AN­DREA SACHS sachsa@wash­post.com

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Af­ter a har­row­ing five days of float­ing in the Gulf of Mex­ico with­out power or work­ing toi­lets, the Car­ni­val Tri­umph fi­nally dragged her sorry stern back to port in Mo­bile, Ala., a lit­tle over a week ago. The last time the same sort of mishap — an en­gine-room fire — oc­curred was Fe­bru­ary 2012 on the Costa Allegra, a ship of the Car­ni­val sub­sidiary Costa. The next time this hap­pens . . . Well, will there be a next time?

For per­spec­tive on the sit­u­a­tion, the Travel sec­tion con­tacted two cruise in­dus­try ex­perts: Carolyn Spencer Brown, ed­i­tor at Cruise Critic, and Jay Her­ring, au­thor of “The Truth About Cruise Ships” and a former se­nior of­fi­cer with Car­ni­val Cruise Lines.

How com­mon are en­gine room fires and other melt­downs on cruise ships?

Her­ring: Cruis­ing is very safe. Th­ese in­ci­dents are very rare — maybe once a year, once ev­ery cou­ple of years. You’re more likely to be hurt driv­ing to the cruise ship ter­mi­nal than you are ac­tu­ally be­ing on a cruise.

Brown: En­gine room fires hap­pen, but 99 per­cent of the time pas­sen­gers aren’t af­fected. Is Car­ni­val to blame? Her­ring: It could hap­pen any- where. Any ship at sea is at risk for a mishap.

How se­ri­ous was the sit­u­a­tion?

Her­ring: On a scale of 1 to 10, Costa was a 10. [Last year’s Costa Con­cor­dia ac­ci­dent in Italy caused 32 deaths.] This is a 5 or 6.

Did Car­ni­val han­dle the dis­as­ter well?

Brown: This is a text­book case of how not to re­act. Noth­ing about the han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion seemed well done.

Any heroes de­serve a men­tion?

Brown: The crew kept ev­ery­one safe. The cruise line had bet­ter be gen­er­ous to the crew.

Do you think Car­ni­val’s com­pen­sa­tion package — re­im­burse­ment for the trip, credit to­ward a fu­ture cruise and $500 — is fair?

Her­ring: I think the com­pen­sa­tion is more than ad­e­quate.

Will this event af­fect fu­ture book­ings?

Brown: Not only vir­gins [new­bie cruis­ers] but peo­ple who have cruised be­fore are skit­tish. It’s a chal­lenge to get past it. But if we can get past Costa, we can get past this.

Any ad­vice for peo­ple now ner­vous about cruis­ing?

Brown: Any ship de­signed af­ter 2010 must have two en­gine rooms. If you have any con­cern, go for a ship that has this new fea­ture.

Would you still sail Car­ni­val?

Brown: I would take Car­ni­val to­mor­row. This was an aber­ra­tion.

REUTERS

Stranded at sea: One ex­pert says the trou­ble aboard the Car­ni­val Tri­umph was an “aber­ra­tion.”

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