Tammie Knapper of Hedgesville, W.Va., said she preferred another day in St. Maarten to the risk that the ship could encounter problems as sea. “It’s better that we are here than in the middle of the ocean,” she said.
Sen. “Jay” Rockefeller, D-WVa. and chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, on Thursday sent a letter to Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison questioning the company’s safety record in light of the Triumph, Dream and dozens of other incidents with parent company-owned ships since 2008.
“I am deeply troubled by this incident, but I cannot say I am surprised by it,” Rockefeller wrote about the Triumph. “This is merely one in a long string of serious and troubling incidents involving your cruise ships.”
For passengers, the Carnival Dream experience was a far cry from the five-day ordeal on the Triumph, which was left powerless in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire on Feb. 10. Tugboats finally got the ship to Mobile, Ala. on Feb. 14, but more than 4,000 people on board suffered without air conditioning, hot water or working toilets.
Although the Triumph has two engine rooms, two switchboards and two propulsion systems, cabling to the forward engine room was damaged, which knocked out power to the entire ship. On Tuesday, at one of the world’s largest gatherings of cruise industry executives, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill said the company was conducting a thorough review of its entire fleet to identify whether other ships have similar vulnerabilities.
He said the company had learned lessons from the 2010 fire aboard the Carnival Splendor, which also knocked out power, and had made improvements as a result.
Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said in an email that the latest incident was different from previous situations.
“All modes of transportation, including cruise ships, have strong overall safety records but sometimes technical issues such as the one Carnival Dream is experiencing will occur from time to time,” she wrote. “We take each one seriously and closely examine what happened to determine how we can prevent it from happening in the future. Safety is always our foremost priority and we have maintained a very strong safety record over our 41-year history.”
Ernest DelBuono, senior vice president of Washington, D.C. public relations firm Levick, said the company needs to drive the safety message home. He pointed out that the incidents with the Splendor, Triumph and Dream might have been uncomfortable, but no one was injured.
“It’s not what they paid for, they’re not going to be happy, but they’re going to be safe,” said DelBuono, who is also a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander.
But more important, he said, is how Carnival operates the company moving forward.
“The way you run the ships has to run your message,” he said. “You can’t be talking about how wonderful it is to cruise on our ships and have incidents like this negate that type of a message. So operations is what they have to do — and that’s get these engineering fixes under control.”
Executives from parent company Carnival Corp. may address some of the issues Friday during a quarterly earnings call, which was announced on Thursday. Carnival stock closed Thursday at $35.73, up less than one percent.