Triumph (or Tragedy) Ship Returns

A cruise ship slipped out of a port quietly this week, or as quietly as a cruise ship can slip away from anywhere, and the reactions ranged from "Good riddance" to "Sorry you're leaving."

The ship was the Carnival Triumph. That's the much-maligned Carnival Triumph. More than any cruise ship this side of the Costa Concordia, it has turned the word "Carnival" into something of an acronym for cruise trouble.

The litany of Carnival events is well-known.

The Splendor caught fire off the coast of California, stranding passengers for days. The Concordia, a disaster which took more than 30 lives, was lumped into the morass because Costa is owned by Carnival. The Carnival Dream broke down in St. Maarten (mechanical malfunction). The Carnival Fascination flunked a cleanliness test. Just this week, two people went missing from a Carnival ship in Australia.

In the midst of all this was the inappropriately named Triumph.

It spent five days floating in the Gulf of Mexico after being disabled by fire, and was towed to Mobile, Alabama, with more than 3,000 passengers on board. That was in February. A month later, high winds broke the moorings and it drifted across the river. A few weeks ago, there was an explosion on a fuel barge where the Triumph was being repaired, and three people were critically injured.

One traveler told TV station WALA: "I didn't want to get too close to it. Sounds like it is bad luck to me."

A Mobile resident told the station it was about time.

The flip side is that Mobile had a cruise ship again, albeit a disabled one, and for 36 days it provided revenue for the city coffers. The workers spent money just being there, and Carnival will pay an estimated $100,000 for docking fees. The visual impact of a ship in the otherwise vacant cruise terminal has city officials optimistic about the return of cruising to Mobile.

Meanwhile, the Triumph is now (or about to be) in the Bahamas for some cosmetic surgery before it returns to full service in Galveston next month.

The ship can't afford another incident. Nor can Carnival.

Carnival Paradise
4 nights
August 1, 2013
Tampa (return): Cozumel
Inside: $279
Cost per day: $69

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