Well, until the results of the NTSB and Coast Guard investigations into what went wrong on Carnival Triumph come out, I’ve just about hit my reading and viewing limit on the topic. Without a doubt, conditions on board were probably not nice. I mean, imagine a normal city of 4,000 that experienced a sewer system failure. Now put that city on a floating platform, and I think you can get the picture. It probably wasn’t pretty on board.

I’ve been quite fortunate in my 30 cruises to not have experienced anything like Triumph, so I will try not to sound judgy. I have had a busted water pipe that flooded our cabin, another water leak from the ceiling on another ship, a broken toilet that was fixed quickly, and an electrical problem that forced us to slow down and miss a port. Oh, I almost forgot that my escargots was once delivered cold. In only one case, the flooded cabin, did I feel like the issue was anything worth writing a letter about, and that letter was dealt with to my satisfaction in short order. Of course, I did not ask for a full refund because I had to change cabins in the middle of the night, but otherwise continue to experience the cruise I expected either.

It was with that in mind that I have read or watched just about every online article and video report I can tolerate about the Carnival Triumph. Of course, the cruise pretty much sucked once things went south starting with an engine room fire. That’s about as much as you can say about it. I wasn’t there, but I expect there’s been a bit of media hype in ginning up sordid tales of woe. Most interesting to me may be the onion sandwiches. More on that in a minute. And of course, with non-functional plumbing, meeting human er…. “needs” becomes a challenge. Enter the infamous red bags. I am operating on the assumption that every cruise ship carries a supply of those bags for just such an emergency. Of course, that’s not something they are going to put in the brochure.

I have a couple of primary interests in this incident. First, I want to hear what the authorities have to say about what went technically wrong. I have no idea if cruise ship fires happen on a statistically significant basis or not. I think I would want to see hard numbers on that, including all types of ships, before I would pass judgement. My other interest in this is what Carnival and other cruise lines do to improve their crisis management practices. I don’t talk much about my airline career here, but suffice it to say that I knew what to do if a tragedy happened at my airport, at least to the point to keep things together until we were assisted by corporate crisis expertise. I would hope that improvements will be made in crisis response, both in making those affected more comfortable, and in dealing with the inevitable shore side fallout.

In short, I will continue to cruise, but I will be watching to see the results of this incident and its impact on the industry with interest. Now, for an alternative view on those onion sandwiches, check this article out courtesy of Cruisemates.com.

-MJ, February 17, 2013