Tag Archives: Carnival Triumph

Carnival Curse Or Just Something To Write About?

Carnival Triumph
Wikimedia Commons (Scott L.)

Years ago while on tour of a naval vessel a question was asked about whether it was rougher at sea or when docked in port. The officer cocked his head slightly and responded it was worse in port. He explained tides going in and out shift the ship and cause it to move unpredictably at times. Having been aboard craft when tides change, I learned exactly what he meant. And something like that happened to the Carnival Triumph.

While moored and undergoing repairs in Mobile, Alabama, it became adrift when near hurricane force winds and stormy waters snapped its moorings. Off it went downriver until it a cargo ship where it incurred more damage. This was the same ship that weeks ago was stranded to a major power failure requiring it be towed back. The horror stories were pretty ghastly and Carnival has refunded their money back plus some free trips in the future.

There were 600 crew members and 200 contractors aboard when it went adrift but they are okay. A guard shack was toppled into the water with two men inside. One has been rescued and the other has not been found and now presumed dead. Now the work order will be altered with fixing a 20-foot gash in the stern with two levels of broken rail. Also the power lines connected to Triumph were broken with possible damage to that system. So it means more work for the repair team.

Now some out there, either jokingly or somewhat seriously, speak of a Carnival curse. The cruise line has certainly had its share of problems from illnesses, ship handling problems, and one very serious incident where the captain got to close to rocks causing the ship to founder resulting in passenger deaths (Costa Concordia). Some of these, like with the Costa Concordia, are rare. Most ship captains are a pretty serious lot who prefer to not to take great risks that will endanger the ship or passengers. However it is a fact that things are going to go wrong. Someone comes on with an virus that has not yet done anything more than a sniffle but later spreads like an epidemic in the close quarters of a ship. Or it could be bacteria that gets into the air filtration system spreading an airborne virus. Unexpected high seas might tumble a ship around causing damage to property and people. A fire in the engineering area, perhaps electrical, knocks out the power for the entire ship. All of those things have happened to cruise ships.

There are a lot cruise ships out there, actually thousands that traverse the oceans, seas, and rivers of our planet. And most of the time, nothing eventful happens except the usual gripes and complaints that arise when you have lots of people aboard a ship. Yet when something does, we act like this is something that never happens. As if they can never happen. This is something out of whack. Complaints arise from politicians (of course), that something must be done as if this has not happened before. Even with the most sophisticated safety and shipbuilding techniques, a ship is hostage to nature and when things go bad like when an engine is knocked out of commission. It is not like the old days where you could hoist a sail and hope for the wind. You cannot do that with most cruise ships and it probably would do little good owing to its massive size.

Curses are convenient in that they answer why things happen badly. The legendary big daddy of all, the one about King Tut, is that many involved in its finding died. Yet that is not true. Some notable deaths did occur but nothing to suggest a curse was reaching out and killing everyone responsible. Howard Carter lived a long life as did others. And the curse was invented by the press and encouraged, it is believed, by Carter to keep people away. Yet people want to believe in it and connect all kinds of bad things when the mummy was on tour around the United States. Titanic has its mummy curse as well but that is also fiction. No mummy was aboard Titanic. Some people argued any president of the U.S. who was elected in a year ending in a zero, would die in office by assassination. Yet while some presidents were killed (Lincoln, McKinley, Kennedy), Reagan was not ending that notion.

What happened to Carnival is nothing mystical or supernatural. It all has a rational explanation. Each incident has it own explanation but when we string them all together some want to believe a hand is at work. What kind of hand? Fate or supernatural or just plain bad timing, I take the bad timing.