Posted by: Madhavi CN | November 13, 2010

The Misadventure Of My Luxury Cruise – Carnival Splendor

(As experienced by a friend)

One day into a seven-night voyage, Carnival Splendor cruise ship lost power due to an engine fire on. It was adrift for three days with 4500 passengers; about 44 miles off the coast of Mexico and tugboats had to haul the 113,000 ton ship into a San Diego dock.

The Dream-Break

I love travelling around the world and experiencing the myriad adventures that come along with it. Journeys have been as wonderful as the destinations. But this time, I dreamt different – I wanted to enjoy the luxury of a cruise. Being always an air-traveller, the sea had held a sense of mystique that I wanted to fathom from the day I read Robinson Crusoe as a 12-year old.

But Carnival Splendor was not planned. It came as a surprise from my company for having been the star sales man for three consecutive years. What a lovely surprise! How could I ever imagine the ordeal that was right around the corner?

Carnival Splendor was a majestic 113,000 tonner quietly seducing all the onlookers. I excitedly boarded the ship thinking of my seven-night voyage in the 952-foot cruise liner. The luxury voyage included stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

 A Jolt Out Of Blue

After checking on the facilities and sauntering on the deck, I retired to my plush room for a shower and some rest. My sleep in the king-sized bed was disturbed with a loud jolt and rumbling. ‘Is it a Tsunami?’ was my first sleepy thought. Stepping out, I saw smoke and after some enquiries realized that there was a fire in the engine room that resulted in the shutdown of the main generator. I thought the problem was going to be rectified and did not foresee the nightmare that was going to be. Barely one day into the seven-night voyage from Long Beach, how could I imagine that our vessel has left us dead in the water off the coast of Mexico!

 My Longest Three Days

Even in a luxury cruiser, 4,500 passengers sans air conditioning, hot food and working toilets meant catastrophe in a number of areas – psychology, health and hygiene. I realized soon, the extravagance of the facilities no longer thrilled any when the craving was for basic amenities like clean toilets, a warm bath or a cup of hot coffee. With no power, the ship’s propulsion system that helps steady itself failed and many like me were getting sea-sick as the ship started rolling with the waves unusually.  While adults buckled under the lack of amenities and insecurity, it was amusing to see children enjoy it all as if nothing happened. In fact all through the ordeal, I kept my cheer on, by just observing these animated kids at play.

The crew were very helpful all through; strangers commiserated; all stayed together – calamities, I guess, truly bind people. Our savior was USS Ronald Reagan that ferried nearly 60,000 pounds of supplies by a helicopter to Splendor.

Ashore and Assured

With just two needing medical attention, the morning looked even lovelier for us 3297 passengers as we stepped off Carnival Splendor after tugboats nudged it to the dock. This truly was one adventure that is better left to be read about rather than experienced first-hand.


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