Carnival Ship Fire Strands 3,100 Guests Off Mexican Coast

A fire on board a Carnival Corp. cruise ship yesterday has left 3,143 guests stranded off the coast of Mexico. No one was harmed and the ship is awaiting two tugboats.

The tugboats will bring the Carnival Triumph to the closest port, Progreso, Mexico, late on Feb. 13, Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line operator, said in a statement today. Guests will be flown back to the U.S. on chartered aircraft.

The Triumph, with 1,086 crew on board, had a fire in its engine room as the vessel was sailing approximately 150 miles (241 kilometers) off the Yucatan Peninsula. The ship, which departed Galveston, Texas, Feb. 7, has maintained emergency generator power -- with public and cabin toilets operational on only certain sections of the ship -- after its automatic extinguishing system put out the fire, Carnival said.

There have been more than 90 fires aboard cruise ships since 1990, according to Jim Walker, a South Miami attorney who writes a blog about cruise industry-related law. They included an engine room fire on Carnival’s Splendor more than two years ago, which also cut short a cruise.

“It happens more often than the public knows,” Walker said of cruise fires in an interview.

The Triumph’s voyage was set to end today after a stop in Cozumel. All guests will receive a full refund and credit toward another cruise. The Triumph’s next two voyages, set to leave today and Feb. 16, have been canceled. Those guests will receive a full refund and 25 percent discount on future sailings.

Carnival, based in Miami, fell 0.7 percent to $38.72 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 5.3 percent this year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 6.4 percent.

Costa Concordia, a Carnival ship, ran aground off the coast of Italy on Jan. 13 of last year, leaving 32 people dead. The company faces at least 11 lawsuits in connection with the accident, according to a regulatory filing.

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