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Carnival plans $300 million in ship improvements


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Posted Online: April 17, 2013, 6:22 pm
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NEW YORK (AP) — Carnival Cruise Lines on Wednesday announced a $300 million program to add emergency generators, upgrade fire safety and improve engine rooms on all 24 of its ships.

The announcement could help the brand begin rebounding from a wave of bad publicity that began in February, when an engine fire knocked out power on the Carnival Triumph. Passengers endured filthy conditions as the Triumph was towed to Mobile, Ala., resurrecting stories of a similar incident from 2010 aboard the Carnival Splendor. Cruise sellers say prices for Carnival cruises have dropped as minor incidents with other Carnival ships have also made headlines.

Emma Jupp, president of Liberty Travel, which does about 25 percent of its business booking cruises, applauded the announcement.

"This is an important and well-timed decision by Carnival Cruise Lines that will provide both added reassurance and value to Liberty Travel's strong base of cruise customers," she said.

Carnival said the first phase of improvements involves installing an additional emergency generator on every ship to ensure operation of safety equipment and services like plumbing, fresh water and elevators in a power loss. The extra temporary generators will eventually be replaced by permanent generators.

Carnival is also installing high-pressure upgraded water mist systems on all ships to improve fire safety. All of those measures will be completed in 18 months, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill said in a phone call Wednesday.

Final upgrades will take longer, requiring drydocking to reconfigure cables that connect each ship's two engine rooms, among other measures. That way, if one engine room goes out, the other will be unaffected.

Carnival Cruise Line's parent company, Carnival Corp., owns a total of 10 cruise lines, including Princess, Holland America and Cunard. The company said all 101 ships from all brands will be assessed to see if similar upgrades are warranted. Carnival Corp., based in Doral, Fla., also owns Costa Cruises, whose Costa Concordia ship sank in 2012, killing 32 people.

"We've operated 8,000 or 9,000 cruises in the last six years," said Cahill, the Carnival Cruise Lines CEO. "The vast majority of them offered a great vacation experience. We failed on two. But we're going to make these investments to reduce the possibility of it happening again."

Earlier this week, Carnival took another step toward repairing its reputation, saying it would reimburse the U.S. government for costs incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy in helping the Triumph and Splendor. Last week U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., demanded repayment for the rescues.

In a statement Wednesday, Rockefeller said "it's unfortunate that it has taken a series of terrible cruise line failures, and the scrutiny that followed, for Carnival to respond with some improvements for their passengers' safety."

Todd Elliott, owner of Cruise Vacation Outlet, said he wasn't sure the announcement of improvements would matter a whole lot to consumers planning their next vacation. "It's a boring subject unless you're an engineer," he said.

But Richard Wagner, editor of Beyondships.com, said "even though events like the Carnival Triumph fire are very rare, the publicity about recent events has caused some people to be concerned about cruise ship safety," he said. "The fact that Carnival is making a significant investment to improve the safety features of its ships should provide reassurance."

















 




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  Today is Saturday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2014. There are 123 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A large pair of elk, captured in Iowa, were exhibited in Market Square today.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Rock Island Arsenal dam was being constructed under the supervision of Charles Frances, of Lowell, Mass.
1914 — 100 years ago: Mrs. Frank Mixer, of Rock Island, was the winner of the final preliminary for the women's handicap golf cup at Rock Island arsenal links.
1939 — 75 years ago: Sixteen hundred persons — many from war-fearful Europe — arrived in New York aboard the German liner Bremen. For two days on the trip, passengers were cut off from the world with both incoming and outgoing radio messages banned.
1964 — 50 years ago: Police reported five youths have been involved in the theft of about seven cars in recent weeks. Three of the youths were arrested Saturday afternoon, one was in custody as the result of a previous arrest, and the fifth is expected to be arrested today.
1989 — 25 years ago: The Rock Island/Milan School Board is asking the city to tear down Franklin School and allow the school district to pay back the estimated $100,00 cost during 10 years.






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