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Crippled Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Finally Arrives in San Diego

Nov 11, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Of the nearly 4,500 passengers and crew aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship that was stranded off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, 52 were senior citizens from New York’s Westchester County on a group trip led by County Legislator Bernice Spreckman. Like their fellow cruisers, all were reduced to a diet of canned Spam and Pop-Tarts, said the NY Daily News. Fortunately, for all aboard, the cruise ship that was crippled by an engine-room fire on Monday was finally brought into San Diego this morning; tugboats reached the ship late yesterday.

The fire caused the Carnival Splendor cruise ship to lose power early Monday morning, just one day after it left port in Long Beach for a seven-day Mexican cruise. Scheduled to stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the cruise was canceled as the ship drifted 200 miles from San Diego awaiting a tow. 

With no power, passengers were forced to wait in hot, dark rooms eating rations delivered to the ship by the U.S. Navy when the ship’s refrigeration system lost power, said the News.

Tug boats pulled the 952-foot, 113,000-ton ship into the San Diego Bay today with two tug boats bringing the ship from the coast of Mexico and four additional vessels on hand to steer the ship to the dock, explained the News, citing Coast Guard Petty Officer Rachel Polish. Rigging was expected take about one hour, with another two hours needed to reach the dock said Petty Officer Polish, adding, “It has to come in at a certain angle,” she said. “You can’t just pull it in as you would at a parking spot,” quoted the News.

The ship, according to emerging reports from the LA Times, is docking now, ending a days-long ordeal.

Passengers had to cope with limited food, massively long food lines, stinky toilets, no showers, and no lights, said the News. “… Guests have been magnificent and have risen to the obvious challenges and difficult conditions onboard,” said John Heald, Carnival’s senior cruise director, also on the Splendor, quoted the News. “I don’t smell of roses at the best of times but as the laundry is not working and I only have two pairs of underpants I smell like Paris on a hot summer’s day,” said Heald in his blog, reported the News.

Electrically powered appliances and equipment have been down since Monday meaning that there was no air conditioning, no hot water, and no swimming pools and passengers and crew had to eat shelf-stable or packaged foods, waiting for hours on lines for cold foods. According to Gerry Cahill, Carnival Corp.’s Carnival Cruise Lines chief executive said that most room toilets were operational and the bar was giving out free drinks.

According to Cahill, speaking at a news conference yesterday, the crankcase on a six diesel generator “split,” which caused the fire. “We’ve never had anything like this happen before, so I really don’t think we have any risks to other ships…. This is a very unusual situation,” quoted the News.

Passenger issues went beyond the discomfort of hot, dark rooms and cold food. Some passengers complained of the stench of spoiling food, stopped up toilets, and smoke. One passenger, a diabetic, said she did not have sufficient food to take her insulin. When her husband asked a crew member for food for his wife, he was told to give her a Tic-Tac, the News reported.


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