A Photo History Of Carnival Cruise Ship Disasters

carnival ecstasy burn fireThe Carnival Ecstasy after a 1998 fire.

Photo: REUTERS

In mid-February, an engine room fire onboard the Carnival Cruises ship Triumph left more than 4,000 passengers stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, with no hot water and few working toilets.

A month later, just as the incident was fading from the public eye, the diesel generator in the Carnival Dream malfunctioned, while the ship was at port, and passengers were flown home.

The next week, Carnival Legend had a technical issue with its sailing speed, and was sent back to its destination in Tampa, cancelling a scheduled stop.

This recent string of public relations disasters is not a new phenomenon for Carnival: Its first ship ran aground on a sandbar on its inaugural voyage. There have been fires on four ships since 1998.

The Costa Concordia, operated by a Carnival subsidiary, struck a reef of the coast of Italy in January 2012, killing 32 people.

But despite its checkered past, the increased cost of maintaining its ageing fleet, and the need to cut prices to draw customers put off by recent fires and strandings, Carnival’s bottom line has not badly suffered.

In fact, its quarterly earnings and revenue just beat market expectations, and Carnival executives say bookings have already bounced back in the wake of the heavily publicized Triumph disaster.

Problems started early for Carnival: The TSS Mardi Gras, its first cruise ship, ran aground on a sandbar during its inaugural voyage, in 1972.

Everything was fine until July 1998, when a fire started in the main laundry room of the Ecstasy, soon after the ship left Miami.

A fleet of tugboats fought the fire and pulled the ship to shore, but not before 8 passengers and 14 crew members were injured.

Repairs cost $17 million.

A little more than a year later, a fire started in the engine room of the Tropicale (later renamed Ocean Dream). The ship was left stranded in the path of Tropical Storm Harvey, but no one was injured.

In November 2010, the Carnival Splendor lost power after an engine room fire, and was towed to shore by tugboats.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan brought supplies, including Spam and Pop-Tarts, when food supplies on board ran low.

The ship finally reached shore three days after the fire.

After spending three days without air conditioning and hot water, passengers finally escaped the ship.

Carnival's most serious problem came in January 2012. The Costa Concordia, operated by a Carnival subsidiary, ran aground off the coast of Italy and partially sunk.

32 people died.

In a show of sympathy, the flags at the Carnival headquarters in Doral, Florida were flown at half-mast.

Last month, Italian prosecutors officially sought to indict Captain Francesco Schettino on manslaughter charges.

The wrecked Costa Concordia is still sitting half-submerged in Italy. An incredibly complex, $400 million operation to remove it should be complete by next summer.

In February 2013, an engine room fire led to a power loss on the Carnival Triumph, stranding the ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

It took five days to tow the enormous vessel back to port, and its passengers were stuck on a ship with few working toilets and no power.

Some of the 4,229 passengers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Carnival, but because they signed waivers, they likely won't win.

In March, the problems continued for Carnival: The diesel generator in the Dream malfunctioned while the ship was at port in St Maarten.

Passengers were flown home, and will receive a refund equal to the equivalent of three days of the trip, plus half-off on a future cruise.

Just a week later, the Carnival Legend had a technical issue with its sailing speed, and was sent back to its destination in Tampa, cancelling a scheduled stop. Passengers received a $100 credit.

The recent string of incidents has hurt Carnival's bottom line, but not seriously: Its quarterly earnings and revenue beat market expectations.

Now see how another company has faced disaster.

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