The Ordeal of the Carnival Triumph “Cruise from Hell”, Now Docked in Alabama

The Carnival Triumph, the Carnival cruise ship that was adrift in the Gulf Mexico for the past five days, finally arrived to a port in Mobile, Alabama early today. The large cruise ship was disabled after a fire in the engine room knocked out power and compromised sanitation on board. The ship had more than 4,200 people on board. They arrived to port hungry and dirty, but nevertheless relieved that the Carnival Triumph ordeal had ended at last.

Thoroughly displeased with their “vacation,” which was supposed to be a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, the 3,143 passengers on board the ship will be reimbursed the full cost of the cruise and given an extra $500 for the circumstances endured. Upon returning to land, passengers were greeted with warm food and blankets. Some passengers elected to stay in hotels in Mobile, while others took buses to Galveston, Texas – 490 miles (790km) away – where Scholes International Airport is located.

By any reasonable measure, the failed cruise was an unpleasant experience. After the engine-room fire, toilets and pipes became backed up, causing sewage to spill into cabins. Some passengers had to use plastic bags as toilets. Many had to wait for hours to get meager meals (some reported eating condiments on bread), although one passenger told CNN that those on board were given steak and lobster for lunch yesterday afternoon.

It is unclear if the Carnival Triumph ordeal will have a lasting negative impact – on Carnival in particular or the cruise industry in general. Because one of their ships is now out of commission, Carnival has had to cancel the next several cruises that were scheduled to take place on the Triumph, dragging down earnings, but this is by no means a devastating blow to a cruise behemoth like Carnival, which controls almost half of the cruise industry. Moreover, cruise ship problems, while rare, are by no means unheard of, and people are to an extent used to hearing about them. About exactly one year ago, the Costa Allegra was stranded in the Indian Ocean after a fire broke out in the engine room, which is what happened on the Carnival Triumph. Six weeks before this, a far more devastating accident involving the Costa Concordia occurred. This disaster claimed 32 lives, and the captain of the vessel is currently facing various charges, including several counts of manslaughter.

At least the Carnival Triumph episode has come to a close, and hopefully the authorities charged with investigating the accident will reach productive conclusions that will help prevent similar incidents in the future.

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