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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
www.carnival.com

Pearl's Sweet Cruise Alabama

Quickly now, who wants to vacation with Alabama. Not IN Alabama, but WITH…as in the country super group?

Well, you can.

Alabama hasn't toured for a decade but in October they're doing a mini-tour, of sorts, on the Norwegian Pearl, and can it be coincidence that they chose this ship because of Minnie Pearl, whose humanitarian award they won?

This tour is four nights long — Miami to the Bahamas and back — and Alabama will play on two of the nights. They'll also have some of their favorite bands on the Pearl, a dozen musical friends to participate in four nights of music at sea. including a beach party at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island.

There will be plenty of time for photos and autographs and all of the trappings of having a private audience with celebrities. Because it's a cruise in which Norwegian is partnering with Sixthman, which specializes in theme cruises, presumably everybody on the ship will have access to everything on the agenda.

Launched four years after Alabama retired, the Pearl carries 2,394 passengers.

In the group's heydey, there were four of them — lead singer Randy Owen, his cousin Teddy Gentry, their distant cousin Jeff Cook and drummer Mark Herndon. A bitter lawsuit filed by Herndon after their farewell tour made Alabama a threesome, one that pops up now and again at awards shows and events like the cruise, and sometimes even in a recording studio.

Alabama produced 41 or 42 or 43 singles that made it to No. 1, depending on your source, and one of the CDs in our collection is entitled: For The Record 41 Number One Hits. Next fall marks the 40th anniversary of the day Alabama launched that career, in South Carolina, and they'll be celebrating it on a cruise ship…off the coast of Florida.

The cost of this vacation with Alabama starts around $1,000 (per person) for an inside stateroom, including taxes and gratuities. A balcony room goes for more than $1,500, and "tickets" go on sale March 20. By then you should know who their "friends" will be.

When you take two concerts and factor in the exclusivity angle, the price shouldn't come as a surprise..


Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
8 nights
February 10, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): St. Maarten, St. KittsSan Juan, Labadee
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.royalcaribbean.com

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