What the Carnival Triumph fiasco means for potential cruisers.
Submit travel deals to
email@example.com. Prices were verified at press time Thursday, but deals sell out and availability is not guaranteed. Some restrictions may apply.
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.
Stranded at sea: One expert says the trouble aboard the Carnival Triumph was an “aberration.”