On Monday morning, a fire broke out in the aft engine room of Splendor, a Carnival Cruise ship traveling off the Mexico Pacific coast. When the fire occurred, the ship was 150 miles south of San Diego. The fire shut down six diesel engines; since then, auxiliary power has permitted emergency systems to keep going and the crew got bathroom facilities running shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, the passengers have been without air conditioning, hot food, or heat. A video of the news clip follows.
It now turns out that the US Coast Guard had boarded the ship the day before the cruise, but as of today, is unwilling to state the reason for the inspection, arguing that it is part of their investigation into the fire, which injured no passengers or crew. A member of the crew had posted a complaint on Facebook that the Coast Guard was testing all of the ship’s generators and had shut down the elevators as part of the surprise inspection.
The cruise had begun in Long Beach, and was scheduled to last 7 days, touring off the Mexican Pacific coast. When the accident occurred, the ship was actually near a Mexican port, Ensanada, but declined to seek refuge there. Instead, the owners of the liner decided, for some reason, to divert the ship back to San Diego; the tow there is expected to last until at least Thursday.
Following the fire, Carnival had a number of options. As I wrote earlier, it could have docked at Ensanada and flown the passengers back to California. Apparently, this option was too costly. The firm could have sent another ship to Ensanada, reboarded the passengers, and then sent them to California. This plan was discarded as well.
The solution that was chosen may have been cost-effective for the company, at least in the short-term. Carnival is paying the cost of the tugboats that are towing the ship back to San Diego. Food and supplies, as well as a Coast Guard escort are being provided by the Coast Guard gratis (in other words, you and I are paying for it). Apparently, the national media is most upset that the passengers are surviving on Spam, Pop Tarts, and canned crab meat. I understand sending food and supplies; I don’t understand why the firm does not have to pay us back. The passengers are being offered discounted fares on a future cruise to pay for their inconvenience.
In the 1980’s, I saw Dennis Miller perform his stand-up routine many times at the Portfolio Club. One of his jokes was (I’ll leave out a word; use your imagination)”Why is it that whenever someone sells you a piece of —-, they offer you another one free. Two times —- is just double —-.”
Here is the ABC News story describing the incident: