Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the company tried to keep families and friends updated and established a toll-free number. Gulliksen said about 200 Carnival employees were in Mobile waiting to assist passengers. Family members who have driven to Mobile have been given hotel rooms at no cost, the company said via Twitter.
In an eerily similar case, the Carnival Splendor was set adrift for four days off Mexicos Pacific coast in November 2010 after an explosion in a diesel generator. Other ships some owned by Carnivals parent, Carnival Corp., others owned by other cruise lines also have suffered engine fires, but few have been crippled as long. Carnival Corp. is also the parent of Costa Cruises whose ship, Concordia, wrecked in January 2012, killing 32 people.
Despite the intense media coverage, experts said they do not expect the incident to adversely affect Carnival or the cruise industry significantly in the long-term. And several cruise agents said they had seen little impact in the days since the fire was reported.
Were surprised were having as strong a week as were having, said David Crooks, senior vice president of product and operations for World Travel Holdings, which owns the huge travel cruise agencies CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.
Im not saying we havent had calls [from future passengers] but we havent been flooded.
Once passengers get back on land and share their stories, that could change, he said. But, he noted, unlike a hotel, every cruise ship goes out at over 100 percent occupancy Theyre going to go out full no matter what.
In a few months, that could translate into better values for consumers. But Thursday, he said, he was more concerned about filling demand for passengers who were booked on the Triumph sailings that Carnival has now canceled and still want to cruise during the busy Spring Break period.
This report includes dispatches from The Associated Press.