Carnival Triumph Back at Sea; Should We Expect Another Cruise Ship Accident?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

It’s hard to believe that only three months have passed since the Carnival Triumph made headlines following a cruise ship fire that disabled the entire ship and left 4,200 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. The cruise line was criticized for not having emergency backup generators in place, which caused passengers to suffer five long days at sea amidst some of the most deplorable conditions ever reported on a vessel. As if losing power wasn’t bad enough, the Triumph’s guests had to endure immensely unsanitary conditions, including being forced to defecate in plastic bags because toilets were broken and having to evacuate staterooms because sewage and waste were overflowing from deck to deck.

The Triumph was tugged to the Port of Alabama, where it has remained since February as it undergoes maintenance and a thorough cleaning. However, the vessel has been believed to be cursed after two more maritime mishaps transpired in the following months. The first incident involved the ship coming loose from its moorings during a storm, carrying over 800 crew members off into the ocean. Then, just weeks later, the ship further corroborated the theory that it might just be the world’s unluckiest cruise ship after crews had to be evacuated when two barges near the vessel exploded, igniting a fire near the ship. Although the fire didn’t extend to the Triumph, the same 800 workers who were trying to repair the damaged ship had to be taken off the vessel for their safety.

Now, the Triumph is back at sea and is making its way to a dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas for further repairs and upgrades. At this point, we can’t decide whether this is a good idea or not. Who knows what damage will happen to the ship while it heads to the Bahamas and furthermore, is this action just Carnival’s way of making sure no one in the U.S. keeps noticing the vessel’s  sheer lack of maritime safety?

Cruise lines make it a common practice to register ships in foreign ports so they can avoid liability for accident and crime investigations, as well as U.S. taxes. By flying a foreign flag, often referred to as a “flag of convenience,” cruise lines hand over the main responsibility for investigating cases to these foreign countries, which are never very keen on divulging information to the U.S., nor are they the best at following through with cases.

The result? Hundreds of victims never obtain the justice they deserve because the cases get swept under the rug. Could this be what’s happening now? Is Carnival THAT scared about their failure to make sure their vessel is up to par with international maritime safety standards that they had the ship transferred to another country?

The Triumph is scheduled to arrive in Freeport tomorrow, Saturday, and it is due to return to service June 13. Who knows at this point if the vessel will ever really be put back in service, or how many cruise travelers will actually want to book a trip onboard the ship. Carnival certainly has its work cut out for it and will have to make a viable effort to ensure no further incidents happen again onboard the ship.

In the meantime, parent company Carnival Corp. is working on having lawsuits filed by passengers dismissed, especially the class-action lawsuit filed by our cruise accident law firm. If the cruise line was truly aware of the damage it has done and the thousands of lives that have been placed at risk for serious injuries, perhaps it would think twice about trying to deny victims the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.