Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Says: We Don't Skimp on Safety

March 13, 2013

(2:25 p.m. EDT) -- Cruise Critic is at Cruise Shipping Miami, where the talk of the mega-convention is the Carnival Triumph fire and its implications for Carnival Corp. and cruising in general. After addressing the issues in an executive panel discussion on safety, Gerry Cahill, president and C.E.O. of Carnival Cruise Lines, spoke further on the topic with the Miami Herald and revealed more about the review process and future improvements. His message: Low fares aside, Carnival will not "skimp" on safety.

Carnival is currently reviewing the problems that left Triumph adrift off the coast of Mexico and will then turn to the rest of the fleet to see if similar problems exist. Sister brands, which include Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America and others, are also taking fire safety inventories. Cahill told the Miami Herald that the flexible piping that apparently leaked and caused the fire (according to the U.S. Coast Guard) was "supposed to be replaced every 18 months and checked every six months. The part that leaked had been replaced five months before" -- so well within maintenance standards.

Cahill also addressed another area of concern -- having redundancies in place so if one engine room is taken out of commission, the ship won't completely lose power. Cahill told the Herald "Triumph had redundancies in place… two engine rooms, two switchboards and two propulsion systems. But cabling to the forward engine room was damaged by the fire, knocking out power there and disabling the ship." As we stated in a previous article, true redundancy -- as required by the International Maritime Organization's "safe return to port" regulations for all ships entering service in 2010 and after -- was therefore not present on Triumph, which debuted in 1999. In a truly redundant situation, if one engine room is compromised, a fault in the cabling should not knock out the second.

Building in actual redundancies on ships without them can be quite expensive, but "we will do whatever we have to do to deal with that issue," Cahill told The Miami Herald. "If we find that on other ships, we will go back and deal with it on other ships." He asserted that Carnival would never try and cut corners on safety to save money, noting the more than $10 million a year in improvements Carnival is implementing as a result of the review of 2010's Carnival Splendor fire.

"No one in my position would ever take the risk trying to cut back on something related to safety or safe operations," he told the Herald. "We just couldn't afford to do that." Cahill said the review will focus first on Triumph, set to re-launch mid-April, and then extend to the rest of the ships as soon as possible.

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor