What was once the spectacular Carnival Splendor, turned into a cruise ship of horrors for nearly 4,500 passengers and crewmembers when an engine fire disabled all power sources aboard the 952-foot liner. Although no one was hurt aboard the ship, the discomfort most passengers felt was enough to make them angry, depressed, and even desperate at times.
It all started when the ship, on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera, began experiencing problems in the engine room. It all happened Monday, November 8, 2010. According to a statement released by Carnival Cruise Lines, a crankcase split on one of the ship’s six diesel engines, which ignited a fire. Smoke quickly filled the hallways located at the back of the ship and the smoky odor traveled to the front cabins. Several cruise passengers reported feeling earthquake-like vibrations and hearing what sounded like a giant jackhammer.
Once it became apparent that something was terribly wrong, the captain announced the issue to the passengers, ensuring them that there was no need to abandon ship. However, the main issue the passengers and crew would have to address was the lack of air conditioning, hot food, and hot water. The elevators would be out of commission, of course, and passengers would be in the dark at night. Passengers had to climb nine flights of stairs to reach cafeterias, while others had to deliver food to those that could not make the climb.
Carnival Splendor was adrift roughly 200 miles south of San Diego and about 44 miles off the coast of Mexico. The USS Ronald Reagan, a U.S. navy aircraft carrier, helped drop 70,000 pounds of supplies such as cups, milk, bread, utensils, canned food, and other items. The most popular items in the news seemed to be Spam and Pop Tarts.
By Thursday November 11, 2010, the ship was on its way into the San Diego cruise port. The 113,300-ton vessel was pulled in by tugboats led by the U.S. Coast Guard and Harbor Police vessels. Splendor docked around 8:30 a.m. and the more than 3,000 passengers had disembarked by 1 p.m.
Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill released the following statement about the disaster: ‘We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience. Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring.”
All Carnival cruise gusts received a full refund, reimbursement for transportation costs, and any guests that had to stay overnight in San Diego received free accommodations at area hotels, compliments of Carnival. Guests also received a free future cruise.
Carnival Splendor will be out of service until January for repairs. The ship is set to return to the sea on January 16, 2011 when it sails from Long Beach, CA to the Mexican Riviera.