Since 2010, more than 48.34 million passengers have sailed on cruise lines that belong to the Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group. Including the Triumph fire, 7,668 passengers less than .02 percent were aboard ships set adrift in high-profile cases by fire. The Carnival Splendor was disabled following a fire in 2010; the Costa Allegra faced a similar situation in February of 2012, and the upscale Azamara Quest was temporarily without power after a fire in late March of that year.
But Harteveldt said the latest case, and the attention it garnered, shows that such issues need to be addressed in a substantive way.
If the industry doesnt get its act together when it comes to something like this, theyre going to hit a point of no return, he said.
In an email, CLIA public affairs director David Peikin said the association works to learn from any serious incident and use those lessons to improve safety.
Within CLIA, we have committees that deal with a range of technical issues, and the appropriate committee has begun discussing what we might learn from the investigation of this incident and how we might make a safe industry even safer, he wrote.
Six investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were in Mobile to look into the cause of the engine-room fire, which happened some 150 miles off Mexicos Yucatan peninsula. The ship left its home port of Galveston on Feb. 7 for what was supposed to be a four-night sailing.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency was working with the Coast Guard and the Bahamas Maritime Authority, which will serve as the primary investigative agency.
The Bahamian government was taking the lead because the Triumph is a Bahamian-flagged vessel, and it was in international waters at the time of the fire, Holloway said.
The 1,000-foot ship has been towed to a shipyard in Mobile, where it is undergoing a detailed damage assessment, said spokesman Vance Gulliksen. After cancelling a total of 14 voyages through mid-April, parent company Carnival Corp. the largest cruise ship company in the world said it expects to take a financial hit of $64-$80 million. Carnival stock closed Friday at $36.92, a drop of more than 5 percent from Feb. 8, the last day of trading before the fire.
Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, has publicly apologized to passengers several times, including at a press conference Thursday night in Mobile and by public address system aboard the ship.
I know the conditions on board were very poor, I know it was very difficult and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests to that, he said to a crowd of journalists Thursday night.
Carnival has offered all passengers who were stuck on the ship a full refund, credit for a future cruise and additional $500 compensation.
Jim Walker, a Miami-based maritime attorney, said he still holds to the advice he gave after the Splendor fire.
I said please dont sue Carnival, because youre totally wasting your time, he said, citing the detailed contract passengers agree to when they buy a cruise ticket. Youre getting reimbursed. If you are on a cruise ship that has a fire and you get off alive, youve had a really good day.
This report was supplemented with information from the Associated Press.