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Schumer demands cruise passenger “bill of rights”

Written by Nick Blenkey

schumerMARCH 18, 2013 — U.S.Senator Charles Schumer (D -NY) slammed into the cruise industry Sunday, saying “Cruise ships, in large part, operating outside the bounds of U.S. enforcement have become the wild west of the traveling industry.”

He demanded a “bill of rights” to “ensure that passengers are not forced to live in Third World conditions or put their lives at risk when they go on vacation.”

Apparently, his plan would guarantee that passengers get real time updates when a problem occurs, that every ship would be equipped with a back-up generator and that full refunds would be issued should any technical emergencies occur.

Senator Schumer, apparently, is unaware that cruise ships do, indeed, have back-up generators. He may also be unaware that in 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, New York accounted for 6.6 percent of cruise industry direct expenditures with $1.25 billion in direct spending. The cruise industry’s spending generated 16,608 jobs and wages totaling $944 million in income for New York workers.

Senator Schumer’s call for a bill of rights comes after the media has paid full attention to a series of relatively minor mechanical problems to affect Carnival Cruise Line ships subsequent to the Carnival Triumph engine room fire. The most recent  of these appears to be a problem with one of the Carnival Elation’s Azipod units that caused the cruise line to provide it with a tug boat escort as a precautionary measure

All of this prompted Carnival Cruise  Lines to provide the following update Saturday:

Carnival Cruise Lines Update

March 16, 2013

We would like to share an update with you regarding the status of Carnival Dream, Legend and Elation and to answer your questions and clarify many misperceptions that are being driven by confusing and, in many cases, inaccurate media coverage. We would also like to update you on the status of our ongoing internal review in the wake of the Carnival Triumph incident.

Carnival Dream
As of this evening, we will have nearly completed the process of flying all guests from St. Maarten to either Orlando or their final destination via a combination of 21 charter flights and multiple commercial air flights. Additionally, we are providing some 600 hotel rooms in Orlando as needed based on travel plans, along with all motor coach transportation needs. Once all guests have left the ship, Carnival Dream will make preparations to sail back to Port Canaveral with the crew on board and we expect to sail on Sunday.

The ship’s power plant, propulsion and hotel systems are fully operational. Aside from some periodic interruptions to restroom and elevator service for a few hours Tuesday night, at no time have any of the ship’s systems and services not been functional. One public restroom was taken offline for cleaning Tuesday evening, but otherwise there were no issues with sanitation functionality or cleanliness on the vessel. Reports to the contrary are completely false.

We have had permission from all necessary regulatory authorities to depart from St. Maarten and sail to Port Canaveral since earlier this week. However, it was our decision not to sail with guests on board without a functioning back-up emergency generator. Upon arrival in Port Canaveral early next week, we will install a replacement emergency generator, followed by the appropriate inspections and approvals to operate our next scheduled voyage on Saturday, March 23rd.

Carnival Legend

Carnival Legend is experiencing a technical issue with the ship’s propulsion system which is having a minor effect on the ship’s maximum speed which is being reduced by a few nautical miles per hour versus normal capacity.

The ship’s safety systems, steering and all hotel services are functioning normally and the ship, which has been achieving speeds of 19 knots, is scheduled to arrive in Tampa on time tomorrow morning.

On Sunday afternoon, Carnival Legend is expected to depart on schedule while technicians continue to make progress on the repairs. The ship is expected to operate its normal itinerary with the exception of one port — Grand Cayman — which is being replaced by Costa Maya. Any guests wishing not to proceed based on the change to one port of call have been given the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

Carnival Elation

At no time has the Carnival Elation been under tow or required the assistance of a tug boat. The ship continues to operate its normally scheduled itineraries. The ship is experiencing a minor technical issue with the steering function of one of its two redundant Azipod propulsion units and the tug that is trailing the ship while it travels on the Mississippi River is purely a precautionary measure. The ship is scheduled to return on time from its current voyage on Monday. Repairs are expected to be fully completed prior to the ship’s departure for its next cruise on Monday afternoon.

Our Commitment to Safety and Security
We would like to sincerely apologize to our guests for the disruption to their vacation plans as a result of these occurrences. The cause of each one is unrelated although we take each of them very seriously. As always, the safety of our guests and crew is our foremost priority. Carnival Cruise Lines carries some 4.5 million passengers a year and operates thousands of cruises without incident. Our historical safety record is outstanding. We have comprehensive maintenance programs in place that meet or exceed all regulatory standards and requirements.

We are committed to learning from any incident that may occur on one of our vessels to apply lessons learned and prevent future occurrences. We are presently conducting a comprehensive fleet-wide review that encompasses multiple operational areas, systems and training. We have assembled an expert team from across the company, as well as a variety of outside experts to complete the assessment. We expect to make an announcement early next week on the initial steps of our implementation program based on the results of our review. In the meantime, we are confident that we will continue to provide our guests with a safe, fun and memorable vacation experience and look forward to welcoming them on board.

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