Carnival Cruise Lines to Spend $300 Million on Fleet Upgrades

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April 17, 2013

Carnival Triumph adrift in the Gulf of Mexico in February, 2013. US Coast Guard Photo

Carnival Cruise Lines plans to spend $300 million to improve emergency power and fire safety mechanisms across its entire fleet following a series of mishaps that have stained the largest brand of the world’s largest cruise ship operator.

The upgrades will be aimed at enhancing emergency power capabilities, introducing new fire safety technology, and improving the level of operating redundancies across its entire 24-ship fleet, Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement. Carnival added that the program will also expand the availability of hotel services for the comfort of its guests in the event of a loss of main power.

Carnival says that the improvement plan is the result of a comprehensive operational review, overseen by parent company Carnival Corporation and initiated following the Carnival Triumph incident.

In February, its Carnival Triumph cruise ship was adrift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine fire that knocked out the ship’s power, stranding more than 3,000 passengers without electricity and adequate sanitation.

“All of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships operate safely today. Each vessel already has effective systems in place to prevent, detect and respond to emergency situations, and we meet or exceed all regulatory requirements,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. “However, by applying lessons learned through our fleet-wide operational review after the Carnival Triumph fire and by taking advantage of new technologies, we have identified areas for enhancement across our operations. These initiatives reflect our commitment to safe and reliable operations and an enjoyable cruising experience for the nearly 4.5 million guests who sail with Carnival Cruise Lines each year.”

Carnival says that the increase in emergency generator power will be completed over the next several months. An additional emergency generator will be installed on each of its 24 ships that will be capable of providing 100 percent power needed for stateroom and public toilets, fresh water and elevators in the event of a loss of main power.

As far as increased fire prevention and detection, Carnival says that the investment will involve upgrading the existing water mist and fire suppression systems already in place on Carnival’s newer ships.

“On Carnival Triumph, our fire systems were effective and our teams performed well in controlling and extinguishing the fire. However, we want to take advantage of the latest and most-advanced generation of fire safety systems to enhance the current extensive capabilities across our fleet,” added Cahill.

Carnival’s operational review also identified modifications to further decrease the likelihood of losing propulsion or primary power, as seen in the Triumph incident. Carnival says that all of its ships have two separate, redundant engine rooms, but modifications will include a reconfiguration of certain engine-related electrical components. Carnival says that on ships where these upgrades are needed, longer lead times will be needed to make the modifications.

In addition to the upgrades, Carnival also announced the formation of an independent Safety & Reliability Review Board comprised of five external experts who are yet to be chosen. Carnival says it is currently searching for candidates with experience with the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and NTSB.

“The formation of our Safety & Reliability Review Board is an integral part of how Carnival Cruise Lines will drive continuous improvement across our fleet. We will be responsive to its recommendations,” said Cahill.

The enhancement program Carnival Cruise Lines announced today is part of parent company Carnival Corporation & plc’s previously announced operational review. Carnival Corp. says the overall program includes the review of all 10 of its brands and 101 ships, and is expected to cost between $600 and $700 million.

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