Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fire on board Cruise Liner - Carnival Splendor

Unlike our culture where the focus is on saving for the future,  Western philosophy is of enjoying life.  They would spend extravagantly on themselves.  Cruise ships are passenger ships used for pleasure voyages.  These vessels would provide best of amenities and travelling in one of them is indicative of one’s status.  They operate on different exotic voyages.  Transportation is not the prime purpose on this but the level of enjoyment is.  The cruise ships are luxurious, have great decks, embellished stay facilities and most modern amenities.  They are far different than the Ocean liners which operate on pre-advertised schedules taking people from one place to another. 

Life can be different at times as experienced by thousands of passengers on board a luxury liner on 8th Nov 2010.  The ship was one day into a seven-night voyage from Long Beach that was to include stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico In the morning 6 am Pacific time, the ship experienced a fire in its engine room and electrical power was cut off. The fire was extinguished soon and none were injured.  All is well one would think.  But the ship was adrift mid sea and had to be towed to the nearest port by some assistance. The ship was drifting off the coast of  Mexico with its complement of  almost 3300 passengers and about 1200 crew members on board.

Carnival Splendor is one the latest of Carnival Cruise fleet, having entered service on 2nd July 2008.  she is 113300 GRT and one of the largest cruisers.   It has 21000 SF  (2,000 m2) state-of-the-art indoor spa consuming two forward decks. The spa features an elaborate thermal suite, a variety of health and beauty treatment rooms, and Carnival's first Thalasso therapy pool. Encircling the upper level of the spa is a winter garden with a ceremonial tea house. Spa access is complimentary for those staying in the non-smoking "spa" cabins on the Promenade and Spa decks.  The children's playroom (located midship) is 5,500-square-foot (510 m2), making it the largest in the Carnival fleet.  It also houses a sports deck featuring arena-style seating for games and other events.   The mid-ship pool, one of four on board, is enclosed by two full decks of glass walls. There are flat screen televisions  in every stateroom on the ship. There are award-winning shows on the ship.  The best of facilities one can dream of and most of us can only keep dreaming (day-dream)
When the fire broke out, the vessel was 200 miles (310km) south of San Diego. The thing to appreciate in US is their salvage assistance.  US Navy helicopters shuttled supplies,  aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan went for assistance and there were many tug boats to pull her to safety.    Obviously airconditioning did not function, hot food service and telephones suffered. 

The cruise company reports that the passengers  were initially asked to move from their cabins to the open upper deck. Later, they were allowed to go back to their rooms. Bottled water and cold food items were provided, the cruise company said.  Navy helicopters  ferried 70,000 pounds of supplies, including the crab meat, croissants, Pop Tarts, Spam and other items, to the stricken ship. Mexican tugboats, meanwhile,  rushed to the vessel and began the tow.  [Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by Hormel Foods.  Pop tarts are a brand of flat, rectangular, prebaked toaster pastries made by Kellogg Co.]


For the past three days, the giant ship with a small city of nearly 4500 on board has been without power and life could have been miserable without even basic amenities.  Those who had planned lavish spread of sea food buffets have been fed  Spam, canned crabmeat and Pop-Tarts.   Some of the cabins which had no windows inside would have been pitch black.  Those used to communication all the time had to suffer because of lack of   ship-to-shore phone service, cellphone and Internet services.  
It is reported that the operational cost of the  aircraft carrier is $1 million a day but whether the Navy will seek reimbursement from Carnival is not known.   The US  Coast Guard  diverted the 378-foot cutter Morgenthau from a routine drug enforcement patrol to help the stranded cruise ship, won't be charging for its services,  as they stated that they don’t put a price tag on safety at sea. 
This is a new and latest vessel but exhibits  that any ship can burn — or sink.
Carnival  announced that everyone on the stricken ship will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, reimbursement for additional travel costs such as airfare, and credit for a free future cruise — a level of restitution that is highly unusual in the business.  Passenger fares on the Carnival Splendor  are reported to range from $400 to $1,000 per person  for a week-long cruise that includes food and entertainment.
The ship is reported to be closer to San diego and all passengers were safe.   

The photos are taken from the website of US Navy’s Office of Information, Washington DC.  The web reads that the  purpose is to provide information to general public and that contents can be used with acknowledgements.  Thanks to  www.navy.mil

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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