Carnival Splendor back in service on the West coast, repairs complete

Carnival Splendor, the ship that was in the news after it caught fire in November, putting an abrupt end to sailings of the ship from the West coast, will be back in service February 20, 2011.

Taken out for repairs in November, Carnival Cruise Lines announced at the time that all sailings between then and January 16th had been cancelled for repairs to be made. Later, the line had to push that date forward when repairs took longer than normal. Now, the ship is ready to resume normal operations, doing seven-day sailings from Long Beach, California.

“Carnival Cruise Lines continues to be the number one West Coast operator with two ships based in Long Beach year-round, as well as a ship operating seasonal itineraries from San Diego and Laos Angeles. We have more year-round capacity dedicated to the West Coast than any other cruise line and we are committed to maintaining our leadership position in this important market,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO.Carnival Splendor has been throughly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard and Lloyds Registry, a ship classification society, which monitored the progress of repairs during the ship’s dry-dock period.

“We’re obviously very pleased that the Carnival Splendor is returning to service and we’re looking forward to welcoming our guests aboard this fantastic ship,” Cahill said. “We would also like to thank our guests for their patience over the past few weeks, as well as our travel agent partners, the ports of San Diego and San Francisco and all of the government agencies, repair contractors and countless others who have provided invaluable assistance and support.”

Carnival will carry nearly 400,000 passengers a year between Carnival Splendor doing seven-day sailings to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Pacific coast and Carnival Paradise doing three and four-day Baja, Mexico itineraries.

Photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines

Breaking: Coast Guard issues safety alerts in wake of Carnival Splendor fire

In a Marine Safety Alert issued yesterday the US Coast Guard urges ship owners to verify and test their Fixed Fire Fighting systems to be sure they work right.

The two Coast Guard alerts “refer to the Carnival Splendor” and the fire that shut down the ship November 8, 2010 verified marine industry journal Professional Mariner.

Noting the ship’s crew responded correctly, the Coast Guard said the disabling fire was “responded to and extinguished by the vessel’s quick response team firefighters using portable extinguishing equipment.”

Where the alert part of this development comes into play refers to Splendor’s fixed firefighting system which had been recently inspected but failed to operate as designed. It seems the directions on how to operate the system and how it actually operates are different, what the Coast Guard called “a recipe for failure”.

The Coast Guard issued a strong recommendation for ship builders and owners to verify and test installations to insure they will “operate correctly during an emergency”.

As Gadling reported previously, propulsion systems, electricity, climate control, water and entertainment were all disabled, and the ship was stuck 200 miles off the coast of San Diego as a result of the fire.

Flickr photo by gnr

Carnival Splendor update: woes continue, ship out of service longer

Carnival Splendor, the ship that caught fire not long ago, putting an abrupt end to sailings of the ship from the West coast, will be held out of service longer than anticipated.

Taken out of service for repairs in November, Carnival Cruise Lines announced at the time that all sailings between then and January 16th had been canceled. In an update today that number was pushed forward to February 20, 2011.

“We sincerely apologize to our guests for having to cancel these additional cruises,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “We made our best effort back in November to estimate the necessary repair time with a strong goal of not having to modify it at a later point in time.”

As repairs were done, additional issues were discovered and some needed parts where not available.

“Unfortunately, as the repairs have progressed and we have discovered additional issues, it is now clear that we need more time. We know this is extremely disappointing for our guests and particularly disheartening for those who already had their vacations canceled once and are now being affected again.” Cahill added.

Guests booked on newly-canceled sailings will receive a full refund of what they paid or a future cruise credit of equal value in addition to a 25% discount and/or on board credit if they re-book on a future sailing depending on the ship and sailing date of the new booking.

Our friends over at AOL Travel have been in touch with the cruise line and have more details on the impact the new discoveries will have for future cruise passengers on the Splendor.

Flickr photo by DVIDSHUB

Cruise ship power outage found to be explosion

Most of the passengers on board Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 were sleeping when the ship lost power on the morning of September 23rd. What was believed to be a brief power outage has now been identified as a more serious problem.

After a complete investigation, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) ruled this week that the event was actually the result of an engine room explosion. In a report published this week the event was described as a “catastrophic failure” of electrical capacitors caused by gradual deterioration.

While passenger safety was not compromised the explosion, deemed strong enough to damage steel doors, adds to a call for improved cruise ship safety world-wide.

Maritime attorney Jim Walker notes “The reporting of this latest incident raises the issue of the safety of foreign flagged cruise ships, and comes after a string of recent disturbing mishaps.”

Earlier this week passengers were poisoned by potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas on Princess Cruises Sea Princess. On Holland America, a reportedly drunken passenger got into crew-only secured area and dropped the ship’s anchor. Carnival Splendor continues repairs for an on-board fire that canceled sailings between now and January.

While cruise vacations continue to be one of the safest methods of travel, these incidents have cruise lines taking a long, hard look at existing safety policies.

Flickr photo by Dawn Encido

Should Splendor passengers sue Carnival after their ship broke down?

After the Carnival Splendor incident last week, the logical follow-up is of course whether passengers will sue the cruiseline. Despite being reimbursed for their inconvenience and receiving a free credit towards a future cruise, chances are some of the passengers will only settle for more.

So, online prediction site Predicto Mobile asked the question – will Carnival be sued by angry passengers before December?

Of the 824 votes, 69% suspect they will. Sadly for those passengers expecting a big payout, Maritime cruise lawyer Jim Walker tells passengers that they’d be wasting their time.

In his article, Jim Walker makes some excellent points about why suing Carnival won’t get them anywhere, and how it could end up costing them more and making them lose out on the current offer of a refund and a free future trip.

So, what do you think? Should the passengers from the Carnival Splendor consider suing the cruise line, or just be happy nobody was hurt and accept the current offer?