Cruise Line’s Woes Are Far From Over as Ship Makes Port

Written By wartini cantika on Jumat, 15 Februari 2013 | 17.35

Lyle Ratliff/Reuters

The cruise ship, Carnival Triumph, preparing to dock in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday night. More Photos »

MOBILE, Ala. — Thousands of hungry and unwashed passengers streamed from the lifeless Triumph cruise ship Friday, ending a five-day ordeal that saw them adrift in the Gulf of Mexico in fetid conditions and clamoring for food.

Singing "Sweet Home Alabama," waving towels and cheering as the vessel was pulled into dock here, the more than 4,200 passengers and crew were transported to New Orleans and elsewhere for a night in a hotel bed and happy to put the ordeal behind them.

Some of the Triumph's passengers kissed the dry ground as they exited the long ramp from the boat. Others ran to hug relatives.

"I'm just so blessed to be home," said Kendall Jenkins, 24, crying and wearing a bathrobe to keep warm. "I don't want to hear the word 'cruise' ever again."

As the passengers settled in on dry land, the ship's owner, Carnival Cruise Lines, with headquarters in both Florida and England, was grappling to deal with the aftermath.

The company faced questions about how and why a fire came to knock out the propulsion system, the power, and the sewage, heating and air-conditioning systems on the 14-year-old ship, which had mechanical troubles last month that delayed a similar cruise to Mexico.

Company officials said the two episodes were not related, but their proximity may help inspire a wall of legal actions from passengers, experts said.

And the problems of the Triumph fit into a larger picture, too, one painted by a booming cruise industry that increasingly is priced for the middle class but that critics say has become too large too fast and needs stronger, more consistent oversight.

With the industry's popularity has come concerns over safety, pollution and the impact of thousands of tourists. Communities including Key West, Fla.; Sitka, Alaska; and Charleston, S.C., are weighing the economic gains against the cultural and environmental impact of an industry with ships that can accommodate more than 6,000 people.

"There are more ships out there, so we are seeing a higher number of incidents like this, and that is not good for the cruise industry," said Ross Klein, a faculty member at Memorial University in Newfoundland who has testified before Congress on the safety and environmental impact of cruise ships.

The passengers had left the Port of Galveston in Texas a week ago Thursday for what was to be a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. They ended up sleeping for five days on sewage-soaked carpets and open decks, with food so limited that they were reduced to eating candy and ketchup on buns.

"It's like being locked in a Porta Potty for days," said Peter Cass, a physician from Beaumont, Tex., as the ship crept closer to Mobile on Thursday. "We've lived through two hurricanes, and this is worse."

The cruise industry, which has been growing at a rate of nearly 8 percent a year since 1980, hit critical mass in the United States last year when more than 14 million people stepped onto ships looking for a convenient vacation offering the excitement of the open seas and exotic ports, along with casinos, unlimited buffets and umbrella drinks.

"We pride ourselves on providing our guests a great vacation experience," said Gerald R. Cahill, the chief executive of Carnival, before boarding the ship on Thursday to apologize to passengers. "Clearly, we failed in this particular case."

In 2011, about 3 percent of Americans took a cruise, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. That is fewer than half the number of people who ski, but cruising is growing faster.

And even the specter of passengers being trapped on the Triumph for five days will not necessarily slow the popularity of cruises, said Matthew Jacob, an analyst with ITG Investment Research.

While there may be some fallout, he said, most travelers have gotten used to seeing television reports about cruises that were aborted because of mechanical problems and hearing about viruses that ran rampant among passengers and crew members. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16 outbreaks of the norovirus on cruise ships in 2012.

"We don't see any spikes downward," Mr. Jacob said.

Robbie Brown reported from Mobile, Kim Severson from Atlanta, and Barry Meier from New York. Reporting was also contributed by Marc Santora in New York and Gerry Mullany in Hong Kong.

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1 komentar:

Meri Ben mengatakan...

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