UPDATE: One tug is now alongside Carnival Triumph and the second is expected to arrive shortly. While stranded without power since Sunday, the ship has drifted 90 miles north through the Gulf of Mexico. Carnival have now decided that it will be towed to Mobile, Alabama, instead of Progreso, Mexico. It is expected to arrive on Thursday – one week after leaving Galveston on what was scheduled as a four-day cruise.
Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill says: “We have maintained constant contact with the ship’s officers. All of our guests are safe, and we’re doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible. The ship has maintained emergency generator power since the fire occurred and the technical team on board has been successful in gradually restoring auxiliary power to operate some basic hotel functions. Currently, public and cabin toilets are operational in certain sections of the ship, power has been restored to a limited number of elevators, and some power in the Lido dining area is providing for hot coffee and limited hot food service.
“We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience, discomfort, and frustration our guests are feeling. We know they expected a fantastic vacation, and clearly that is not what they received. Our shipboard and shoreside teams are working around the clock to care for our guests and get them home safely.”
He added: Given the strength of the currents, it is preferable to head north to Mobile, rather than attempt to tow against them. Mobile also provides simpler re-entry [to the U.S.], particularly for the 900 guests on board traveling without passports.”
Two tugs are on their way to the stricken Carnival Triumph, according to the latest update from Carnival Cruise Lines. Sister ship Carnival Elation has been alongside since yesterday, helping to provide meals for the 3,143 passengers on board. It will soon be joined by Carnival Legend, which sailed from Tampa, Florida, yesterday.
Triumph has been dead in the water since an engine room fire disabled its power supply and propulsion yesterday morning. The ship was heading back to Galveston, Texas, at the end of a four-day cruise which should have ended this morning..
The tugs will take the ship to the Mexican port of Progreso, although it is not expected to arrive there before Wednesday afternoon. Carnival is chartering planes to fly the passengers back to the U.S.
Emergency generators have been able to provide sufficient power to restore some facilities, but public and cabin toilets are not functioning in parts of the ship. The Lido buffet restaurant is able to cater hot drinks and a limited hot food service, said a Carnival spokesman, who added: “Guests have been supplied with food and refreshments throughout yesterday and this morning and the ship has supplies on board to last until the vessel returns to port.”
A company statement also disclosed that a team of additional technical crew and guest service personnel is being rushed to the ship by boat, and is expected to arrive later today (Monday). “All appropriate authorities including U.S. Coast Guard have been notified and a Coast Guard cutter is on site next to the Carnival Triumph and in communication with the ship.”
Carnival also say: “All guests on the current Carnival Triumph voyage will receive a full refund of the cruise, along with transportation expenses. In addition, they will receive a future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage, as well as reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the voyage, with the exception of gift shop and casino charges.
“The next two voyages of Carnival Triumph, scheduled to depart Monday, February 11 and Saturday, February 16 are being cancelled. Guests scheduled to sail on either of those voyages will receive a full refund, reimbursement for non-refundable travel expenses and a 25 percent discount on a future three to five-day cruise.”
The compensation offer will no doubt be welcomed by activist attorney Jim Walker, of Miami. Normally quick to jump on what he perceives as cruise line failings, he praised Carnival’s similar approach after passengers on Carnival Splendor endured four days at sea without power in 2010.
He is less forgiving of the fact that the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has yet to issue any statement following the Triumph fire and the deaths of five crewmen during a lifeboat drill yesterday on Thomson Majesty.
“It seems like CLIA is about as responsive to the disastrous week in cruising as [Costa Concordia’s] Captain Schettino was in responding to his sinking ship, he writes.
I did, at least, get a reply from CLIA when I asked whether the Thomson Majesty lifeboat drill had been carried out in line with the procedures adopted following the Costa Concordia tragedy.
A spokesman said: “In the ‘lifeboat loading for training purposes’ policy, only the crew essential for operating the lifeboat is on board when it is lowered. This is a widely-recognised safety principle throughout the maritime industry.
“The additional crew members are loaded once it is in the water. Reference to the IMO guidance is made in a footnote directly within the policy.”
The spokesman was unable to say whether CLIA could assess whether eight was an appropriate number of crew to be on board.