Late Wednesday Carnival Cruise Lines announced that all guests on the current Carnival Triumph voyage will receive further compensation of $500 per person.
As previously announced, all 3,143 guests on board will receive a full refund of the cruise along with transportation expenses and reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the voyage, with the exception of gift shop, art purchases and casino charges. All passengers will also receive a future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage.
Travel Agent asked a Carnival spokesman if the transportation expenses to be reimbursed were for all flights, or only those booked through Carnival. If guests have proper documentation, "we are refunding all flights even if they weren't purchased through Carnival," said spokesman Vance Gulliksen.
The ship experienced an engine room fire on Sunday and is expected to reach the Port of Mobile, AL, sometime Thursday. It's being towed via three tug boats.
Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines (www.goccl.com) said: “We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances. We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure. Therefore, in addition to the full refund and future cruise credit already offered, we have decided to provide this additional compensation."
Cahill said he looks forward to welcoming guests and crew arriving at Mobile on Thursday and said "we have mobilized our full resources to assist and support them as they travel home."
Fortunately no one was killed or injured in the fire, which was put out by the ship's fire suppression system and crew. But a loss of propulsion resulted in failure of the toilet systems, air conditioning, refrigeration and cooking capabilities although the line has said limited services in some areas have been restored during the past few days.
However, guests onboard are reporting back to family and friends via tweets, Facebook postings or other communications; generally, they report very challenging conditions onboard including hot cabins, sewage flowing in hallways and into cabins as well as intermittent shortages of food and water, apparently made worse by guests hoarding food as they make their way through the lines when food is available.
Carnival, for its part, has said guests are coping with the issues and that several other Carnival ships have supplied the stricken vessel with food and water. It's restored some toilets and showers, and said it's doing all possible to ensure guest safety and make guests comfortable.
Travel Agent asked the line whether it had considered either cancelling a voyage for one of Carnival's other ships and going to rescue the guests with that vessel, or sending chartered ferries to make multiple trips with passengers. The line said it had considered all possibilities earlier in the week but had decided those options weren't workable.
So, some agents ask, why didn't the ships already on scene this week - such as Carnival Legend or Carnival Conquest - just take on the passengers from Carnival Triumph?
Industry experts say it would have been difficult at best, unsafe at worst, to try and transfer 4,000 guests and crew via lifeboats to the ocean and over to another ship.
In addition, international maritime law prevents a cruise line from operating an oceangoing vessel without enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew onboard - a rule that came out of the Titanic accident more than a century ago.
For Travel Agents ONLY: What is your perspective on the current situation? What could Carnival have done better or differently? Do you have clients onboard? Have you been in contact with them during this ordeal? What do you expect upon their return? What's your perspective on how this will impact your business and cruising in the future? Travel agents may email us [email protected] with name, title, agency name and any comments that may be included in an upcoming article on www.travelagentcentral.com.