It’s been a few days now, since the Carnival TRIUMPH limped into Mobile, Al., ending a cruise that many have said was “the cruise from Hell”. So I guess I feel it’s important to talk about the “other side” of cruising, that time when things go badly. It’s probably unlikely that someone hasn’t heard about what happened, but a recap just might be in order. The ship was on a 5 night cruise to Cozumel, and roughly 150 miles off the Mexican coast, the engine room had a fire. The automatic systems kicked in, and the fire was put out, with no injury to crew or passengers. However, it knocked out all power to the ship, and it became a floating island, subject to the actions of the sea and wind. Initially it was decided to have the ship towed to Progresso, Mexico, but when the tugs got to the ship, it had drifted over 90 miles, and it was decided that due to the wind and currents it would be safer, and quicker, to tow the ship to Mobile, Alabama. Now, let me interject here. Why not go to Galveston, or New Orleans, which are active Carnival ports? In the case of Gallveston, the wind and currents precluded that, and New Orleans was out because of the lengthy and narrow river, plus all the river traffic would have to be considered. (the normal time up the river is almost 8 hours under the conditions of no power, and against the current.) So now the ship is being towed to Mobile, and conditions start to deteriorate. Sister ships from other Carnival ports come to assist, bringing food and water, then leaving to continue on their own itineraries. Why not transfeer people? Who would be selected? How would they get transferred? Why didn’t they stay? All logistical questions, not the least of which would take several pages to describe here. Needless to say, they assisted to the best of their ability, and the tugs and the Coast Guard handled the rest. Since there was no power, or very limited, normal functions had to be curtailed. The ship must be visible, so external lighting had to be protected. That meant that only emergency lighting was available for the interior of the ship. Since the sewage system is hydraulic and electric, it also was down, with only a few working toilets. The crew advized people how to cope, yet reports have surfaced where people just did what they pleased. This is what caused some of the terrible odor and waste found in the rooms and halls. Since the air conditioning system was out, cabins got very stuffy and hot, so people who had inside rooms, as well as oceanview (but no balcony) wer opting for space outside, either on the Lido Deck and higher, or on the Promenade. As the ship progressed further north and east, the temperature started to drop, thus now warm clothing was needed. Food lines got long, and many people became food hoarders. This is what started the “we only had onion sandwiches” mantra. Simply put, those at the front of the line started to take everything they could lay their hands on, and those at the end had no selections. Is this an oversimplification? Yes, because I was not on the ship, but I do have access to many of the passenger comments. Ok, now for the media. News is an amazing thing. You can report accurately, or you can sensationalize. Unfortunately, sensational news sells, so for every person who said yes, it was bad, but we were able to do, there were many who embellished their plight, and claimed that the cruise line was out to screw them. Considering that Carnival not only refunded their cruise, and gave them a certificate for another cruise, plus paid for any additional expenses such as airline penalty fees, hotel charges, and then added an additional $500 cash, they went over and above anything they were required to do. How many times have people been bottled up at airports, and the airline giving free flights, coupons for free flights, monetary reimbursement, etc? Not many. It’s simply all spelled out in the contract that you sign when you travel. And here again, is another point. People claim they have no rights under the contract, that, in efffect, it’s being signed under duress. Well, the airline contract you sign for every flight gives you even less protection, and yet people fully accept it, and it is also one of those that you sign just by agreeing to fly. So, what options do you have? For one, accept that there are times that things happen. Nothing you do to prepare can make a difference, other than you will at least be prepared to roll with the punches. Flashlight? Probably a pretty good idea. Good attitude? Excellent idea, because if you go with the feeling that you will have a good time, regardless, then you can probably handle whatever is thrown at you. Has this made me more concerned with cruising? Not in the slightest. I realize this is a rare occurance, and will likely not happen again for a very long time. Can it happen again? Yes, and I hope that if I happen to be there when it happens, I will be awaiting any and all things happening with an open mind.