Worsening conditions aboard the fire-damaged Carnival Cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico are proving extremely challenging for elderly and disabled passengers.
According to an ABC news report, passengers are not only coping with the discomfort and inconvenience of not having power on board the ship, but are also dealing with safety issues such as leaking sewage running down walls.
The Triumph became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire erupted in its engine room, knocking out its four engines. The ship that has 4,200 people on board, was “left bobbing like a cork” for more than 24 hours. Giant tugboats then hooked up to the ship and began towing the nearly 900-foot-long ship to a port in Alabama. Weather-permitting, the ship should arrive in Alabama Thursday, officials said.
Sub-Human Conditions Reported On Board
At least one person with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution. However, thousands of other passengers, including many elderly and disabled people, are struggling on board. Several reports bring news of horrific conditions on board the stranded ship. One passenger texted ABC saying that her cabin carpets were wet with urine and water.
She also reported that passengers are dealing with overflowing toilets, sleeping in the hallways and eating cold onion and cucumber sandwiches for dinner. Another man who heard from a family member on board said that people are fighting “over food and stuff like a bunch of savages” and that there was water and feces all over the floor.
In addition to being a public relations nightmare for the cruise line, this incident will also be a major financial blow. The destruction aboard the ship, compensation to passengers, towing expenses and the costs of returning people home is estimated to cost the cruise line up to $80 million. Carnival has blamed an alternator for the fire.
Rights of Cruise Ship Passengers
But the real question is: Why was Carnival not prepared for an event like this one, which is a probability anytime a cruise ship embarks on a days-long journey? Why was the ship not stocked with extra food and supplies? Was the ship properly maintained? Why did the entire vessel fall apart? Did Carnival have a written plan in place to manage such an event? These are important questions that must be asked.
Cruise ship passengers have legal rights. Any mass carrier – public or private — owes the highest duty of care to its passengers. This means that they are responsible for the safe transit of their passengers. Injured passengers or those who became ill on board can file a civil claim against the cruise line for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced personal injury attorney can help victims in such cases better understand their legal rights and options.