Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Fire

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Last February, the Carnival Triumph set sail from Texas. Days later, in the middle of a 7-day Mexico cruise, a fire broke out in the engine room and caused the ship to be towed back to the United States. According to CNN AC360, which aired the video below last night, Carnival knew that only 4 out of 6 generators were operational at the time the cruise started, and knew of a generator fire hazard across its fleet of ships.

The result was a complete fiasco. To read our previous entry on the situation at the time, click here: Fire on Carnival Cruise Ship for the second time – Cruise Passengers stranded in the middle of the ocean

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Several days ago, the Carnival Triumph, operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, became inoperative after a fire broke out in one of the engine rooms. On board, 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members are stranded with limited food, no air conditioning, only a few working toilets.

stranded carnival triumph.jpgAccording to a CNN report, passengers who are now enduring their third day adrift at sea are commonly seeing “sewage running down the walls and floors.” Carnival has asked all people on board to defecate in bags and urinate in showers. If hungry, passengers have to mustard waiting in line for over three and half hours to eat cold meals. Due to the lack of air conditioning and gaining bad smells throughout the ship, more and more people are sleeping out on the decks.

Photograph courtesy of NBC News – The Today Show

This latest event on a Carnival cruise ship should not come as a surprise. Back on November 8, 2010, the Carnival Splendor endured the same fate. A 7-day cruise to Mexico turned nightmarish for its 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members after a fire broke out in the engine room. The ship was approximately 150 miles south of San Diego, CA. It took hours for Carnival crew members to extinguish the fire, and several people were injured in the panic.

Carnival Splendor Tug Boat.jpgMuch like passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph are experiencing now, passengers of the Carnival Splendor had very little to eat for days, and suffered through 96 hours of extremely poor hygienic conditions.

Several months after the Splendor fire, it was finally determined that the fire emerged from the aft engine room, and that second engine room of the ship failed to start, which should have allowed to maintain power throughout the ship.

The Carnival Triumph is scheduled to be towed back to the United States and arrive in Mobile, AL on Thursday. The Carnival Splendor was also towed by a tug boat, back to San Diego, CA.

Carnival so far is reporting that all passengers are safe and no injuries were sustained as a result of the fire. Carnival’s statement is eerily similar to the statement made in the aftermath of the Carnival Splendor fire, yet it was inaccurate. Carnival Cruise, like any other cruise line, is held to the same standard of providing a safe environment for its passengers at all times, whether an emergency occurs during the cruise or not.

Could stranded passengers hold Carnival accountable for this preventable mess?
The answer is probably not. the fire aboard the Splendor gave Carnival the opportunity to find out what to do if such circumstances were to happen again. Carnival has jumped in front of the problem this time around. Carnival will refund all passengers aboard the Triumph, and will refund the cruise tickets of all passengers scheduled to sail aboard the Triumph for weeks to come. Accepting a refund does not waive a passenger’s rights to file a lawsuit against Carnival, but it certainly hinders the perception that passengers were not taken care of by the cruise line.

Secondly, and most importantly, the emergency aboard the Triumph does not change the existing thresholds in order to sue any cruise line. For one, a passenger will have to show that they have sustained a personal injury. Without provable and legitimate damages, a lawsuit will be dismissed within weeks of being filed. Second, even if a passenger sustains legitimate injuries, they must prove that their injuries were caused by Carnival’s negligence. Alleging that passengers have a claim for damages against the cruise line simply because their cruise/vacation were ruined by the fire is not enough.
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In the ongoing public relations nightmare the cruise line industry is facing amidst the Costa Concordia tragedy and debacle, and the latest incidents that have resulted in the deaths of multiple cruise passengers, another incident unfolded about a week ago aboard the Seven Seas Voyager, a cruise liner operated by Miami-based Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

The 700-passenger cruise ship, Seven Seas Voyager, was on a 15-night cruise from Sydney to Auckland when it was caught in a very severe storm in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand. The storm produced winds in excess of 115 miles per hour and between 30- to 40-foot waves that kept on crashing against the 670-feet long ship.

The initial commotion resulted in broken glass partitions inside the vessel, as well as several balcony dividers on several passenger cabins that were damaged. In the middle of the following night, at around 4am, a fire broke out on the ship’s deck after the deck furniture, which had been strapped down by crew members, broke loose and crashed into electrical fittings, which in turn ignited a fire aboard the ship.

One of the passengers who is still currently aboard the Seven Seas Voyager wrote in a forum entry:

“We are on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager currently caught in a nasty storm in 100-knot winds off the Southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Our ship tried to turn the corner around Cape Providence at around 6:00 pm local time and could not make the turn due to the wind on our beam. As a result, we have turned back north and are running directly into the wind to wait out the storm. The balcony chairs look like they are about to go over the edge. We have been warned not to go on open decks or to open our balcony doors. We are making 6-7 knots speed right into the wind. A little scary!!”

Regent Seven Seas Voyager.jpg

Regent Seven Seas Cruises issued a statement shortly thereafter: “The fire, which damaged plastic pool furniture, was immediately extinguished with no damage to passengers, crew or ship systems. The ship is fully operational.”

While we do not know whether there truly was no damage to passengers, it is important to note that cruise ships and their captains have several duties to fulfill when in the face of bad weather.

Duty to warn passengers of bad weather: Being on a very large ocean liner does not immune cruise passengers from injuries when the ship enters a patch of rough weather. When at sea, cruise lines have the duty to warn passengers from bad weather as soon as the dangers become known. To fulfill their duties, cruise ships are equipped with radars that detect patches of rough weather far in advance of feeling their effect. Cruise lines can be held liable for failure to warn passengers who injure themselves or fall off the ship during a storm.

Duty to avoid bad weather and seek safe harbor: When a cruise ship is on the open seas and the ship’s onboard radars alert the crew of a patch of bad weather, the cruise captain’s overarching duty to keep the passengers safe imposes that the ship sail away from the storm inasmuch as it is reasonable and safe to do so, and seek immediate safe harbor until the storm passes.
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