Stranded in the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula, the 4,200 passengers aboard the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, will have to wait until Thursday to reach land. Two tug boats are currently towing the massive ship to Port Mobile in Alabama.
The ship was severely damaged by an engine fire on Sunday morning, causing power sources to shut off completely. All the power that remains is the backup emergency systems, used to operate basic functions. Originally, Carnival officials planned to tow the ship to Progreso, Mexico, however the ship drifted about 90 miles north in tumultuous seas. The 100,000-ton Triumph is the size of two and a half football fields – larger than the Titanic was – and it will take the tug boats a full three days to tow it to shore.
The boat is traveling at an excruciating few miles per hour and passengers on board have started erecting tent communities on the sea decks. Passengers told ABC News that, due to the power outage, cabin toilets are largely out of order, and many private rooms are wet with urine and water from the overflow. In order to reserve energy, there is minimal running water, no lights aside from the emergency flashers, and passengers are unable to flush or shower. Passengers say the conditions are getting worse by the hour, one woman waited in line for four hours to get a hamburger as others settled for cucumber and onion sandwiches for dinner. Some passengers are even fighting over food and supplies.
There is currently no air conditioning in the cabins, which is why passengers are choosing to sleep in tents on deck or in hallways. The power outage also caused ship kitchen refrigerators and freezers to go out, contributing to the already rancid smell on board. Fortunately, a second Carnival ship was able to meet the Triumph and troll alongside it to deliver basic supplies.
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The Carnival Cruise Lines President apologized to the guests and their families, and stated that all passengers will receive full refunds along with a voucher for a free cruise in the future. The Triumph is expected to reach shore on Thursday, where it will be met by security officers and a medical triage center. Carnival has reserved more than 1,500 hotel rooms in Mobile and New Orleans and has booked more than 20 flights to fly passengers back to Houston, where they were originally planned to dock. For those wanting to get home sooner or who do not wish to rest the extra night, Carnival has arranged for charter buses to take them to Houston or Galveston. The company is ensuring that all these arrangements are being made to ensure the safety of all passengers, and to get them home as soon as possible.
Luckily, no one was injured by the initial fire on Sunday, which was extinguished by the ship’s automated system. Many are wondering why Carnival is unable to get passengers off the ship, especially with another liner trolling alongside to deliver supplies. If it can be proven that there was intentional negligence on board the ship that contributed to the incident, passengers may be able to file lawsuits for punitive damages. If Carnival knew that the engine systems on Triumph were in any way faulty or inadequate before taking voyage, the company may be held liable for the entire incident.
2012 was an extraordinarily difficult year for Carnival Cruise lines, which faced numerous extremely serious lawsuits, ranging from slip-and-falls, to wrongful death, to illegal cavity searches. Unfortunately for the company, 2013 is not shaping up to be any better, with potentially millions of dollars at stake if the Triumph accident leads to any lawsuits.
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Lawsuits filed against cruise lines are somewhat similar to those against airlines, and can be very complex, so it is important that anyone injured while on board a cruise contact a skilled accident and injury attorney, who can inform you of your rights and evaluate your potential claim. Carnival Cruise lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm off free consultations, and have extensive experiences in handling these cases.