This article is over 9 years old


Carnival Triumph Sets First Sail After ‘Cruise From Hell’

Four months after an engine fire left it stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, the Carnival Triumph was back in the water with a sold out cruise leaving Galveston. It follows an extensive multi-million dollar repair with upgrades.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

Looking at the 102 tons, 900 foot Triumph, it’s hard to imagine passengers had nicknamed their experience the “cruise from hell.”

Lorraine Jackson from Mount Bellvue was on that ill-fated cruise in February. She and the 2,700 passengers endured four days stranded at sea without any electricity or running water, and unsanitary conditions.

She was still nursing a broken ankle from the ordeal.

“The ship was dark. We were without power and it was listing. We’re being pulled by tugs, and I was walking from the balcony into the room, was in the room and there was … I think it’s like when a car’s being pulled, you get a little jerk every once in a while. It threw me off balance and down I went.”

Her daughter Brandi says cruise line officials did the best they could under the circumstances, but …

“They weren’t prepared. They just were not prepared for something of this magnitude. They didn’t have procedures in place and of course, were dealing with good people literally. They weren’t sleeping in air conditioning with flushing toilets either. I just think that they did the best they could.”

John Heald is Carnival’s senior cruise director. He says the line has been doing this for over 40 years, but it was something they had never experienced.

“It was a fire in the engine room and that meant we lost maneuverability, and some of the hotel services. And what we’ve done is we’ve now added a state-of-the-art fire suppression system. We’ve recabled the engine room to avoid this ever happening again.”

fire safety system
Fire suppression system [Photo provided by Carnival]

The $115 million repair and upgrade included adding a second diesel emergency generator on every ship in its fleet to prevent loss of power.

“The days after the fire we worked very hard. It’s important to remember that nobody was hurt, but we did learn a lot, and it’s made us stronger and made us more determined to provide the safest and the most fun vacation we possibly can.”

Passengers I talked to say what happened four months ago would not keep them from booking a cruise. Tammy Lovin from Austin says she and her husband had sailed the Triumph several times before.

“We did not realized when we booked it that it had not sailed since everything had happened. But then we assumed that everything would be just fine, we didn’t second guess it. I think everything will be fine and I think it’ll be a great cruise.”

The sold-out four day cruise left Galveston to Mexico and the Western Caribbean.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required