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Entries in Triumph (4)

Friday
Feb222013

Passengers of Crippled Carnival Triumph Planning Next Cruise

Melanie Jinkins (second from right) and her Carnival Triumph cruising companions. (Courtesy Melanie Jinkins)(NEW YORK) -- Despite being stranded at sea under extremely difficult conditions, and even as several lawsuits have been filed against Carnival Corp. in the days since the cruise, at least a few Carnival Triumph passengers say they are ready to set sail again.

Melanie Jinkins will take her next cruise less than three weeks after she got off the Triumph.  And what's more, her cruise will be on another Carnival ship.

Jinkins, of Spring, Texas, was on the Triumph with four co-workers.  Her next cruise, which she'll take with her husband David, two children and her older son's girlfriend on the Carnival Conquest, departs on March 3.  It's a seven-night, round-trip cruise from New Orleans and stopping and places such as Key West, Fla., and Nassau, Bahamas.  She booked the trip five months ago.  But she also plans to book the free cruise Carnival offered to Triumph passengers, too.  And she's not alone.

Cindy Wright of Union, Neb., said "of course" she planned to use her free cruise.  Wright was on the Triumph with her husband Phil.  She said she's looking at booking a February 2014 Carnival cruise out of New Orleans.

Wright said she and her husband were in a tent on a deck for several days with two younger couples -- about their kids' ages -- who would wait on line for their food and called them "mom" and "dad."

And despite reports of sewage running down walls, urine-soaked carpets and short food supply, some passengers said this was not the entire picture.  Wright said she saw no sewage running down the walls at all.

"It was kind of fun," she said.  She recalled that on Fat Tuesday, the crew put together a parade, the band played and t-shirts were thrown into the crowd.  

As for her next cruise, she said she's looking into a solar-powered charger for her phone and iPad, should the unthinkable ever happen again.

"I'll be a little leery," she said, "but I'll be prepared."

Brandie Slonacker was one of the friends in Jinkins' group.  She also had her husband and three kids along.  She said they will "absolutely" be using their free cruise on Carnival, probably for a family vacation this summer.

"My daughter said she hopes the same thing happens again because she had so much fun," Slonacker said.  "I don't, but we tried to make it as fun for them as we could."

Jinkins called her experience on the Triumph "a fantastic three-day cruise followed by a six-day camping trip on the ocean."  Jinkins, who has been on seven cruises so far, is looking forward to her next voyage.

"It [her Triumph experience] really didn't change my feelings.  It reinstated them.  It validated what I like and enjoy doing on a cruise.  On the trip, I kept saying 'as long as they get us back for the next cruise, I'm happy,'" she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

First Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Carnival over Triumph Disaster Cruise

Paul McConnell/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(MIAMI) -- The first class-action lawsuit has been filed against Carnival Cruise Lines for the way it handled last week's voyage aboard the Triumph. The ship lost power at sea after a fire, leaving more than 4,000 passengers and crew stranded at sea for several days. Now more than 100 incensed passengers are taking legal action against Carnival in Miami.

The suit, filed by Miami-based law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, alleges that from Feb. 10 to 15, passengers "were forced to sleep on deck and/or in other communal areas on the vessel, relieve themselves into buckets, bags, showers, sinks, were given spoiled or rotting food that was unfit for reasonable safe human consumption, and were generally forced to live in squalid conditions that created a severe risk of injury, illness and/or disease."
 
At issue, says attorney Michael Winkleman, is the “intentionality” of towing the ship to Mobile, Ala., instead of Mexico, which possibly added another 36 hours of misery to the already wretched trip. The lawsuit claims that Carnival put dollars over human suffering when it decided to pull the ship to Mobile and put passengers on buses from there, instead of docking sooner in Mexico and flying passengers on chartered jets to the U.S.

"In the race for the bottom line, I think they put profits over passenger safety and over passenger happiness," said Winkleman, whose firm is also representing passengers from Carnival's deadly Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy last year.

Carnival, however, claims it's being generous, reimbursing passengers for the trip, plus offering them a voucher for a future cruise. The cruise line also added a $500 check for each passenger's travel expenses. But passengers say that's not enough for what they had to live through.  

Interestingly, none of the upper-level passengers from the disaster cruise are taking part in the suit yet. But Winkleman says it's still early.

"It was the lower two floors where all the sewage was really all backed up, and all the floors were laden with sewage and coming down the walls and things of that nature," Winkleman said. "I haven't heard a single account of anyone from an upper level room having a problem at this point -- yet. Keep in mind, it may be early."

He added, "It's my guess that by the end of the week, we'll probably have somewhere between 500 and a thousand passengers that want to be onboard with the class action."

In order for the class action to be certified, a federal judge in Miami will have to decide that the welfare of the passengers supersedes the waiver they signed when they purchased their tickets, according to Winkleman.

For now, Carnival has declined to comment on the suit.

Whatever happens, Winkleman says he’s confident he can get his clients more than the $500 offered by the cruise line.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb192013

Coast Guard Uncovers Reason for Engine Fire on Carnival Triumph

Paul McConnell/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At least one of the big questions surrounding last week's disastrous Carnival Triumph cruise excursion appears to have been answered.

Much of the power was lost aboard the vessel a week ago Sunday in the Gulf of the Mexico after an engine fire.  It took five days for the crippled ship to be towed to Mobile, Ala.

On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard said a leak in a fuel return line sprayed diesel fuel onto a hot surface, thus causing the engine fire, which was quickly extinguished.

However, the damage was done as the crippled cruise ship with 4,200 passengers and crew members floated helplessly 150 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula, awaiting tug boats to rescue the Triumph.

In the meantime, the stranded passengers tweeted about backed-up toilets, short food supplies and even shorter tempers.

A complete Coast Guard investigation of the incident could take six months to complete.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb142013

Disabled Carnival Cruise Ship Arrives at Mobile, Ala., Port

Chris Shivock/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) -- The ordeal of the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship carrying 4,000 passengers and crew appeared to be almost over, with people starting to disembark in Mobile, Ala., after days at sea without power in often squalid conditions.

After the ship arrived at port around 9:30 p.m. local time, Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill praised the ship's crew and told reporters that he was headed on board to apologize directly to the passengers.

Passengers appeared to begin disembarking around 10:15 p.m. CT.

The Carnival Triumph departed Galveston, Texas, last Thursday and lost power Sunday after a fire in the engine room disabled the vessel's propulsion system and knocked out most of its power.

After power went out, passengers texted ABC News that sewage was seeping down the walls from burst plumbing pipes, carpets were wet with urine, and food was in short supply. Reports surfaced of elderly passengers running out of critical heart medicine and others on board squabbling over scarce food.

"I know the conditions on board were very poor," Cahill said. "I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests [to] that. ... Clearly, we failed in this particular case."

It could take up to five hours to get everybody off the huge ship.

"Inside the terminal, there's also warm food available," said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of marketing. "There are blankets, there are cell phones and refreshments available for the guests that need that or want that assistance."

Passengers will have the options of boarding buses to Houston or Galveston, Texas, about seven hours away, or New Orleans, about two hours away, officials said.

"We have gotten our guests back to land," Cahill said. "Now, we need to get them home. ... The full resources of Carnival are working from here to get them home as quickly as we possibly can."

The passengers were achingly close to port about noon Thursday as the ship began to enter the channel and proceed to the cruise terminal. At 1 p.m., the lead tow boat had a tow gear break, so a spare tug boat that was on standby had to be sent in to replace it.

But once the second tug was in position and the lines were reset, the towing resumed only briefly before the tow line snapped.

"We had to replace that tow line so the ship did not begin progressing back into the cruise terminal until 2 p.m.," Thornton said.

Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons said that with powerless "dead ships" like the Triumph, it is usually safer to bring them in during daylight hours, but "once they make the initial effort to come into the channel, there's no turning back."

"There are issues regarding coming into the ship channel and docking at night because the ship has no power and there's safety issues there," Richard Tillman of the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau told ABC News.

When asked if the ship could be disembarked in the dark of night, Tillman said, "It is not advised. It would be very unusual."

Thornton denied the rumors that there was a fatality on the ship. He said that there was one illness early on, a dialysis patient, but that passenger was removed from the vessel and transferred to a medical facility.

After eight miserable days at sea, the ship's owners have increased the compensation for what some on board are calling the vacation from hell.

All 3,143 passengers aboard the 900-foot colossus, were already being given a full refund for the cruise, transportation expenses and vouchers for a another cruise. Carnival Cruise Lines is now boosting that offer to include another $500 per person. Cahill announced the additional compensation Wednesday.

"We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances," he said in a statement. "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."

Carnival also said that it has canceled a dozen planned voyages for the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before an engine-room fire left it powerless in the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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