Saturday, February 19, travel professionals and media were treated to an exclusive celebratory event in Long Beach, California that heralded the Carnival Splendor back into service to the Mexican Riviera cruise market after a devastating engine room fire last November that left passengers adrift for four long, hot days at sea.
President and CEO Gerry Cahill fielded questions during a press conference aboard the Splendor, assuring guests and the travel industry that the $65 million in lost revenue and extensive repairs were well worth the wait in mitigating against future cruise catastrophes and insuring the safety of its passengers.
After a sincere thanks to noteworthy heroes of the rescue, namely the US Coast Guard and the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, as well as the Port of San Diego, Cahill made a point to dispell fabricated rumors of Spam and other wild stories by some media outlets. He also clarified the magnitude of Carnival’s generous compensation to every passenger for their loss and inconvenience, which included a full refund of the cruise, a complimentary future cruise, transportation costs and lodging as needed.
After replacing over 110 miles of electrical cables (yes, miles) and generator/alternators totalling well over 324,000 pounds, the cruise line also took advantage of the dry dock time in San Francisco to make some minor upgrades and routine maintenance. With three and a half months of downtime and R&R, the captain and his crew was more than eager to get back to work and head south of the border.
In talking to both crew and passengers from that not-so-lucky voyage, I discovered that one of the main heroes onboard the Splendor was John Heald, the cruise line’s senior cruise director, who kept everyone informed and in direct communication with the ship’s progress at 20-minute intervals. John just happened to be on the ship at the time of the fire and was instrumental in keeping spirits high day and night. The cruise ship also benefitted from having two captains onboard at the same time during a shift change on the bridge.
With a cruise line the size of Carnival, along with its parent company (Carnival Corporation & PLC) that owns ten other major cruise brands and a 51.6% share of the total worldwide cruise market … they obviously know what they’re doing.
Carnival Cruise Lines will soon be adding two additional ships to her fleet. The 3,646 passenger Carnival Magic inaugural scheduled for May 2011, and the 130,000 ton, 3,690 passenger Carnival Breeze that enters service in the spring of 2012, will be ships No. 23 and 24 respectively.