Last week everyone aboard the Carnival Triumph had a life changing experience. On Feb. 21, I spoke with Angie Cunningham who was a passenger on the ship as it caught fire and they were stuck out on the ship for days. She is from Oklahoma. On Feb. 19, CNN reported that the ship fire was caused by a leaking fuel line.
Angie was aboard the ship with her two children, age 9 and 12, and also some good friends. She has been through a rough year and this vacation was supposed to be their getaway to enjoy some time together as a family. The four day cruise started out great and they enjoyed their stop in Cozumel, Mexico. After that, it all went downhill when the ship's engine caught fire and they were stuck on the ship with no power for days. The slide show on this page shows some of what they had to deal with on the ship.
When the ship's engine caught fire, it was around 5 a.m. They heard something over the loudspeaker about Alpha team being called to the engine room and then heard that a stairwell was closed. Carnival did a poor job of telling them what was going on and left the passengers wondering. Angie decided to take the elevator up to figure it out, but this was the start of her bad week. She got onto the elevator to end up stuck on it for 35 minutes when the power went out.
After the fire started, one passenger was on floor 1 and went door to door on his own to tell passengers to get out of their rooms. It was covered in smoke, but nobody from Carnival was reaching out to them. At this time, the people working on the ship seemed just as confused as the passengers.
The passengers went all day long without knowing what was going on and in the late afternoon they finally told them the ship had a "normal" fire. Of course, no fire is normal, but to Carnival this one was when they announced it. They were also told when they had to use the restroom to go #1 in the shower and #2 in the red bags and then put them outside for the steward to take care of for them. They had no power so nobody was staying in their state rooms anyway.
The only time that they had cell phone service was when a ship would pull up close to them to bring supplies. They were able to call home on Sunday and Monday, but that was it. Carnival did call their emergency contacts after the fire. The first phone call was simply a recorded message where they could not ask any questions.
One family member contacted Carnival to check on them. They handled it very poorly and told them that their family was just fine and on an extended vacation. They even told them that their family members had lied to them if they told them that they were having problems.
The bathrooms overflowed on the ship and they were looking for formula and diapers for people that ran out. She said the people working the ship were awesome about trying to take care of them, but Carnival did not handle it well. They did have a helicopter bring them supplies, but didn't think to ask for the much needed formula or diapers in this drop off.
When they did finally open the gift shop, they even charged them for the items and Angie paid $6 for a can of Pringles just so she could eat. The first few days they had a lot of fruit to eat, but it later spoiled. The passengers were given cucumber sandwiches and onion sandwiches for dinner. One night they were able to get the grill going and after standing in line for 4 hours they were given a raw hamburger to eat. Nobody wanted to leave their valuables alone so they would take turns standing in line to get one plate of food to share between them. Angie's 9-year-old daughter was sweet enough to stand in line and bring them food one time. She said that the adults in their party didn't even eat for two days to make sure their children could have plenty of food.
Carnival lied to them the entire time they were on the ship. They were told they were 200 miles from Mobile to later find out that they were really 340 miles away. They were told they would be taken to Progresso but then later found out they chose Mobile so that they could save money and not have to pay for rushed passports for everyone on board that didn't have one.
When they arrived in Mobile, they were greeted with cold drinks and volunteers to help carry their baggage. She said the Red Cross was even there and they were taken great care of and then put on a bus to Galveston so they could come home.
At this time, they have been reimbursed the cost of the cruise and promised a lot more. They were told they will receive a check for $500 in the mail and also all of the money back that they charged on the ship. The rumors are flying about the cruise they will get to take in the future. Rumors are that it is a cruise similar to the one that they took, any cruise they would like, or even cruises for life. Carnival is not doing a good job of letting them know what they will really get. Angie is unsure they will even want to take another cruise after this nightmare and if they do it will be a few years in the future.