Carnival’s Less-Than-Triumphant Moment

Well, it’s been over a week and I have remained silent on the entire Carnival Triumph drama. However, I feel that I need to say SOMETHING based on the simple facts that I 1) advocate for and sell travel as part of my livelihood and 2) am an confessed and proud cruise junkie.

Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com

Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com


In case you haven’t been watching the news or following online, the Carnival Triumph was disabled by an engine fire on February 10, which knocked out its propulsion system and primary power. A backup generator was utilized, giving crew and passengers a limited amount of electricity. The initial plan was for the disabled ship to be towed to Progreso, Mexico but for whatever reason (reason theory a: 900 passengers didn’t have passports; reason theory b: the ship had drifted closer to the US), the ship was returned to Mobile, Alabama after 5 days at sea. For those who DID see the media coverage, you learned all about the limited food supply, the sewage dripping down the walls, and flooded rooms. Carnival refunded each passenger their full fare plus an additional $500, plus offered them a future cruise credit. However, passengers are now beginning to sue Carnival for this extremely uncomfortable experience.

I admit; I was not on the ship. But what I DO know is that no one was injured or killed. Those who needed emergency evacuation – for example, the dialysis patient who would’ve missed 2 treatments – were evacuated. Everyone else walked off the ship physically unscathed.

Courtesy of nydailynews.com

Courtesy of nydailynews.com

I have several opinions about this, beginning with the media coverage of the cruise. The media made it seem as if the Triumph was a floating cess pool. That people’s lives were in danger. Was this really the case though? Yes, I understand that there was some stinkiness, but from what I’ve gathered, it was not to the extreme that was described. Two of my colleagues in the travel business were aboard the ship and said that the media accounts were out of hand. One even posted in our Facebook group and said, “Really everything is fine. Don’t believe all that is being said. Biggest problem on ship wad [was] stupidity of some passengers.” I almost seemed like the press was hard up for a big story, and this became their golden ticket. This article from the Washington Times has one passenger’s account of hamburgers, movie nights, bingo and live music/entertainment. Miserable.

All sarcasm aside, I recognize that some people may have been legitimately uncomfortable. Is it worth suing over, though? The past few years have seen an occasional cruise mishap (the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor in 2011) and even one major disaster (Costa Concordia in 2012, caused by human error). All of these ships are owned by the same parent company and I would definitely challenge them to re-examine a few things in the next few months. But generally speaking, CRUISING IS SAFE! In 2012, 17.2 million people took a cruise vacation. That is a LOT of people. I tried to find some statistics on the number of people who actually DIED or were injured aboard a cruise ship; didn’t find much.

I’ve noticed a variety of reactions to the Carnival “disaster” since it occurred; those who have cruised before are completely ‘undeterred, whereas those who were a little skeptical about cruising before are avidly saying “no way!”. On the other hand, I personally booked cruises for 4 first time cruisers SINCE the Triumph drama, with those clients saying “stuff happens”.

That’s the attitude I take. If you’d rather fly to Brazil than cruise to Jamaica, your plane could crash. If you’d prefer to drive to Orlando, you could get into a car wreck. Every form of travel has its share of risks and benefits. The question is, how much will people allow the minimal risk of an adverse event affect their willingness to enjoy the adventures that travel can offer?

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do then by the ones you did do”
– Mark Twain

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