An engine fire aboard the Carnival Triumph on Feb. 10 turned what was supposed to be a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, into a trying ordeal for 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members who had departed Galveston, Texas, Feb. 7.
Tugboats towed the powerless ship into Mobile, Ala., late last week, mercifully ending the latest cruise setback for an industry that was hoping to rebound from last year's disastrous wreck of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast. Miami-based Carnival Corp. owns the parent company that operated the Concordia as well as Carnival Cruise Lines, which owns the Triumph.
Carnival announced that passengers will receive $500, a full refund and a cruise credit. They also will come away with one heck of a story to tell. Following are edited emails and texts compiled by Cruise Critic news editor Dori Saltzman from what the website's members heard from friends and family as events unfolded on Carnival Triumph (For more, visitcruisecritic.com.):
Clinty76 (6:56 p.m.): Here is the most current update directly from my wife aboard the ship. "We are about to get supplies from another cruise ship and apparently the tugboats should be here tomorrow around noon. Who knows how long it will take to get back to Galveston. We have no power at all, which means we can't use the toilets, wash our hands or take a shower."
jgomila198101 (7:07 p.m.): My sis just called. They have plenty of food; they are all fine but doesn't look like they will be back until Wednesday night. Said they are still having fun.
Morehouse14 (8:47 a.m.): I know four people on this cruise, one of which is my wife. I have been in contact with her and the others. The cruise line says they are running on emergency generators. ... There are no lights or running water on the ship. Cabins have no power. They have to use bags and/or the shower to go to the bathroom. It is hot, with no air moving below deck. They want everyone to stay in the public or open areas of the ship.
Morehouse14 (1:28 p.m.): Just received a text message from my wife. They are being served hamburgers and salad from another ship that is alongside. Lines are taking two-plus hours to get through to get food and drink.
Dbogusch (2:02 p.m.): Just found out a co-worker is on that ship. She texted her boss this afternoon. She said there are very long lines for food and bathrooms. Some rooms running out of toilet paper. She said the ship is hot, and people are cranky.
Wmiller86 (2:11 p.m.): My wife and three of her girlfriends are on the Triumph. ... My wife told me that it was pretty scary during the fire evacuation. … She said that they were allowed back down into the cabins after a while, but it is so hot that you cannot sleep down there. So they had set up a makeshift tent over deck loungers to sleep in. At the time I spoke to her, there were no toilets. They were using little red bags. And no running water, no lights, except emergency lighting. She said it was already pretty miserable. No hot food and no alcohol being served.
okiecruzer (2:22 p.m.): They (parents) said there is no power still, no toilets ... no meat. They slept on the deck last night (no tent, just open air) and will probably do so for the next two nights. They said they are doing this by choice — they booked an inner room without a window. They said there is no coffee or juice, only water. My dad said they were serving "hamburgers." He had one made just of cheese slices and another with only coleslaw, no meat on either. All alcohol service has been cut off.
LynnA (4:28 p.m.): We just got a text from daughter-in-law. She said she was miserable but no worries.
NTFF (1:47 a.m.): My wife is aboard for her very first cruise. She and her best friend have a cabin just forward of the centerline of the ship. She tells me she has not heard of or seen any functioning restrooms, etc. She said she has not seen anyone fighting for food, but she had seen that people waiting in very long lines were piling up the food and (hoarding) taking it to their cabins as if there would be no more. She said the crew was assuring all that there was plenty of food, but many (passengers) were ignoring this advice.
NTFF (1:09 p.m.): (Feces) and (urine) rolling across floor with every wave. People sick and throwing up everywhere.
A matter of opinion
Cruise Critic ran a survey on its website, asking: Does the Carnival Triumph fire put you off cruising? Here are the results:
No. I'm not worried. I'll cruise again: 62 percent
No. It worries me, but I'll still cruise: 27 percent
Yes. I won't book one for a while — 6 percent.
Yes. I doubt I'll cruise again — 5 percent.