KILLEEN (February 15, 2013)--As thousands of relieved passengers disembarked from the Triumph Carnival cruise ship Friday, thousands more who remained on dry land wondered if their vacation getaway would be put on hold.
The engine of the Triumph Carnival cruise ship caught fire causing the ship to go adrift. After five days at sea, the ship docked in Mobile, Ala.
Due to this incident, Carnival has cancelled all cruises on the Triumph through April 13. "Carnival has informed us that they are going to refund their money and give them a discount and retain their prices that they had on future cruises," said John Hicks, Director of Marketing and Sales for Casa Blanca Great Escapes Travel.
But for some vacationers, a future cruise is not an option. "Our biggest issue is those who are either booked for spring break and holiday times," said Bambi Eskew, Allen Samuels House of Travel.
"They are left without having an opportunity for a sailing date to go and at this time, it's late date."
Travel agents throughout Central Texas have been fielding calls from fearful clients who have been informed that the cruises are cancelled. Now agents are looking for spring break alternatives for their clients.
"Where here to help them and hopefully find something for them but again, it's at a higher cost right now and so that really is going to hurt their opportunities," said Eskew. According to Eskew, those wanting a refund will have to wait ten or twenty days to get money from Carnival or re-book another date.
Cruises on the Triumph are projected to start running out of Galveston in April, but could be delayed longer if clean up and repairs are extensive. "Either they are going to take the ship out of service or they are going to replace it with another ship," said Hicks.
Currently the Triumph was the only cruise ship that offered five-day cruises out of Galveston, according to Hicks. The Magic Carnival cruise line out of Galveston only offers seven-day cruises.
The seven-day Carnival cruise line out of New Orleans is called the Conquest. Galveston and New Orleans are the two closest seaports for those in Central Texas.
Other concerns regarding the Triumph is safety for future travel. "We have had several people call in with concerns because they wanted to know if the ship was going to be in good shape to run after being refurbished," said Hicks.
"We have a large alumni group from Killeen that have booked a reunion for 2014 on the Triumph, and some are wondering if an incident like this could happen again. I'm sure with maritime rules there are some changes that they are going to make so this doesn't happen again."
How long will it take to fix the Triumph? "We have all heard of sewage being in the hallways and its kind of hard without redoing the entire ship to get rid of all potential germs and bacteria," said Hicks.
The best defense for those taking a cruise is to use the hand sanitizers throughout the ship. Hicks also recommends passengers use clean silverware and get a clean plate each time you make a new trip at the buffet.
"Being in close quarters with small hallways and cabins, it is easy to spread germs, but ship staff takes special steps to make sure everything is wiped down daily and cabins are cleaned twice a day," said Hicks. "This was a bad situation that turned out to be an ok situation," said Eskew.
"For the fact that nobody was injured or really hurt, thank goodness, hopefully that will make people realize the cruise industry does have safety precautions."
Will the highly publicized incident cause a decline in future cruise ship trips? Travel agents say that since it was an isolated situation, hopefully people will regain confidence and will get back to sailing.