Following a three-month dry-dock repair of its engine room the Carnival Splendor set sail Sunday with a full load of passengers heading on a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise from its home port in Long Beach, CA.
It marks the first sailing for the ship since it was marooned at sea 150 miles off the coast of San Diego November 8, 2010 after a diesel engine generator caught fire in the engine room. The fire was contained in the engine room but the heat melted insulation that protected the ship’s 110 miles of electrical cables that would have allowed a second engine room to take over. The result was a total loss of power for three days. The beleaguered ship was eventually tugged into San Diego.
“These are not the things you expect to happen, especially not in a ship only two years old,” says Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “There are two engine rooms and you don’t expect to lose both aft and forward.”
The company added several safety measures to the new repairs: improved sensors, stronger insulation protection and the creation of a fire safety task force across the cruise line fleet – including better trained crew and stronger communications with land-based response facilities.
Damages from the incident, from the cost of repairs to the cost of reparations and lost revenue from cancelled sailings top $65 million, Cahill says. The Splendor incident in November displaced 47,000 passengers in all.
In a conciliatory gesture following the fire, the cruise line reimbursed the 3,299 passengers aboard the cruise, took care of passenger transfers and hotel nights and safe return to their onward, flights and sent them off with promise of a free equivalent cruise at a later date. Passengers who were booked on cancelled cruises were given full refunds and discounts toward a future sailing.
“We have not had any problems in rebooking passengers or with any passengers who sailed on the ship,” says Peter Ward, a travel consultant with Legendary World in San Marcos, CA.
But recent reports from some disgruntled passengers and travel agents say the cruise line has not been so forth coming.
“If there are some unhappy passengers out there we don’t know about them,” says Cahill.
The 3,006-passenger Splendor is one of three Carnival ships based in Southern California with sailings to Mexico. The Paradise sails out of Long Beach and the Spirit docks in San Diego for another 15 months before moving to Australia.