Carnival Cruise Lines' 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph in a photo taken Feb. 11, 2013 from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Vigorous. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Paul McConnell)
(USA TODAY) -- The giant Carnival cruise ship that was left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico after a weekend fire will be towed to Mobile, Ala., and should get there Thursday, the cruise line said Monday night.
Monday, Carnival had said the 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph would be
towed to Progreso, Mexico, which at the time was closer, and arrive by
late Wednesday. But the ship has since drifted about 90 miles north
because of strong currents, putting it equidistant to Mobile.
the strength of the currents, it is preferable to head north to Mobile,
rather than attempt to tow against them," Carnival president and CEO
Gerry Cahill said in a statement issued late Monday.
first of two tugboats that will pull the Carnival Triumph to Mobile
arrived on the scene Monday evening, and the second is expected to
arrive early Tuesday, Cahill said.
Passengers on the Carnival Triumph have described uncomfortable conditions
in the wake of the fire, which occurred Sunday morning. While the blaze
was contained to the engine room with the help of the ship's automatic
fire suppression systems, it resulted in a loss of power used to operate
air conditioning, elevators and toilets in passenger areas as well as
kitchen equipment used to prepare hot meals. For a time, the vessel's
freshwater system also was down.
At least some passengers spent
Sunday night sleeping on the Carnival Triumph's open decks due to lack
of air conditioning in the ship. Plastic bags were used as makeshift
Carnival on Monday said technicians on the Carnival
Triumph had restored its freshwater system, and toilets were operating
in some parts of the vessel. Some power had been restored to the ship's
Lido buffet, allowing for hot coffee and limited hot food service. Power
also has been restored to a limited number of elevators on the ship,
making it easier for passengers to move around the vessel.
the 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew on board the Carnival Triumph were
injured during the fire, but on Monday a passenger in need of dialysis
was transferred off the ship to another Carnival vessel, the Carnival
Legend, for transport to Cozumel, Mexico. Arriving Monday afternoon, the
Legend also provided meals for passengers on the Triumph. The U.S.
Coast Guard cutter Vigorous also is on the scene.
At the time of
the fire, the Carnival Triumph was near the end of a four-night cruise
to Mexico out of Galveston, Texas that began on Thursday. The ship had
been scheduled to return to Galveston early Monday. Carnival says it is
arranging to get passengers back home from Mobile after the ship arrives
Industry analyst Tim Conder of Wells Fargo on Monday
estimated the incident could cost parent company Carnival Corp. as much
as 10 cents per share, or nearly $80 million, in lost revenue,
passenger reimbursements and repair costs.
fire also could take a toll on future bookings for the line, although
industry watchers say it's too soon to know for sure. While the incident
comes at the height of the busiest time of the year for cruise
bookings, a period known as Wave Season, travel agents on Monday weren't
bracing for a downturn in business, in part because the story has yet
to get major play in the media, says Mike Driscoll of Cruiseweek, an
"That's partly due to the lack of injuries,
but also because of the headline-grabbing resignation of the pope," says
Driscoll, noting that the pope's surprise resignation resulted in less
media exposure for the incident than it otherwise might have gotten. "Of
course, that could all change."
The Carnival Triumph fire comes just two years after another Carnival ship, the 113,000-ton Carnival Splendor, was disabled off the Pacific coast of Mexico
by a fire during a cruise from California - a similar incident that
ultimately had a negative impact on cruise bookings in the state, says
"The (Carnival Splendor) story became big not only in
print and TV but social media," Driscoll says. "That really didn't
happen until after the ship was towed back into port."
The Carnival Triumph fire is just the latest in a string of serious incidents involving cruise ships, most notably the Costa Concordia capsizing in January 2012 that left 32 passengers dead. In another incident this weekend,
five crew members of a 1,056-passenger ship operated by UK-based
Thomson Cruises were killed in an accident during a safety drill.
the fire on the Carnival Splendor in late 2010, the ship was out of
service for months. Carnival has not said how long it thinks the
Carnival Triumph could be out of service, but the line already has
cancelled the ship's next two voyages.
Carnival also moved
quickly to offer all passengers on the current sailing of the Carnival
Triumph a full refund for the trip as well as a credit for a future