Late Thursday evening, Feb. 14, the Carnival Triumph cruise ship arrived safely in Mobile, Ala. Carrying more than 4,200 people, the cruise ship had suffered a loss of electricity and its propulsion system when a blaze erupted in the engine room Sunday, Feb. 10. The 893-foot Carnival Triumph was left drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Crews were able to restore some power on the ship, but many decks, especially the lower decks, experienced major plumbing issues, lack of air conditioning and darkened rooms. These problems resulted in terrible odors, and passengers described open sewage, sleeping outside and general discomfort.
Passengers reported that some vacationers were stealing and hoarding food, resulting in vast amounts of wasted food. Makeshift tents were set up on the deck and others were in the hallways of the cruise ship.
After the ship arrived in port Thursday evening, it took until Friday morning for all the passengers to disembark. Many kissed the ground and cheered, while others cried.
According to USA Today, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill spoke to the passengers on Friday morning. “I appreciate the patience of our guests and their ability to cope with the situation,” he said. “I know the conditions on board were very poor. We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”
According to Forbes, passenger Cassie Terry sued Carnival on Friday, and cited fear for her life or illness, calling the cruise “a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish, a floating hell.”
While the conditions on the ship were less than ideal, and many passengers definitely experienced gross and sickening situations, the media and some passengers calling the situation a catastrophe, hell or apocalyptic experience is doing an injustice to the billions of people around the world who live in more deplorable situations for their entire lives.
The passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph were mostly Americans accustomed to living comfortable lives. Most probably never had to worry about sanitation problems, lack of food, electricity or shelter.
To call this event “hell” or even a disaster is going overboard — no pun intended. According to the website Global Issues, 1.4 million children die each year as a result of inadequate sanitation. An estimated 2.4 billion people don’t have access to sanitation facilities, and “1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.”
The passengers who were aboard the Carnival Triumph should remember that they are fortunate to live in countries where these conditions are an anomaly.