For the third time in less than three years Carnival Corporation is suffering a calamity that will sully the corporation's public image and cost it tens of millions of dollars. November of 2010 witnessed an engine fire aboard the Carnival Splendor that left passengers on the Pacific cruise stranded at sea for three days with limited food, power, and bathroom access. Fourteen months later the Costa Concordia, a ship owned by the Costa line which is in turn owned by Carnival Corporation*, hit a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea west of Italy and partially sank - resulting in the deaths of at least thirty people. Now, the Carnival Triumph is being slowly towed back to the States after suffering an engine fire in the Caribbean Sea near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Reports indicate that conditions aboard the disabled Triumph are horrendous with food shortages, no air conditioning, ventilation issues, and overflowing toilets that have resulted in carpets soaked in water and urine. Passengers have reported standing in line for up to four hours to eat, being given plastic baggies for their bodily wastes, and sleeping out on deck in "shanty towns" to get away from the stench below decks.
There are no diapers for the babies on board.
There is also a concern about the possible outbreak of disease, particularly norovirus which can be marked by vomiting and diarrhea.
It has been reported that the crew has begun dispensing free alcohol to passengers, an action that could result in a whole new set of issues.
The Carnival Triumph left Galveston last Thursday and sailed to Cozumel, Mexico. A fire broke out in the engine room on Sunday shortly after the ship left Mexico. Apparently a decision was made to not try to return to a Mexican port due to high seas and potential passport issues that some passengers would encounter.
Cruises have gradually come down in price to the point that many people are now able to enjoy a few days of pleasure and pampering at sea at least on an annual basis. It can be a very glamorous outing as long as the ships are in top running order and steer clear of rocks and icebergs. But, as the four thousand trapped souls on board the Carnival Triumph this week also know, a sea cruise can quickly turn to the vacation from hell!
(*Note: Carnival Corporation comprises the largest fleet of cruise ships in the world. Their holdings include Carnival Cruise Lines (23 ships), Princess (17 ships), Holland America (15 ships), Costa (15 ships), P&O Cruises (7 ships), P&O Cruises Australia (3 ships), Cunard (3 ships), Seabourn (5 ships), AIDA (8 ships), and Iberocruceros (4 ships) - with a total passenger capacity of over 190,000. Micky Arison, the CEO of Carnival Corporation also owns the Miami Heat basketball team. There have been no reported issues with his toilets.)