Carnival Corp. Besieged by Bad News
In more troublesome news for Carnival Corp., the Costa Allegra was adrift off the Seychelles Islands, following an engine room fire early on Monday.
Costa issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that engine room inspections were in process, in an effort “to determine when the equipment can be restarted.”
The ship was located more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles and approximately 20 miles from Alphonse Island. "Tugboats and other naval and aerial units have been dispatched to Costa Allegra,” Costa said.
According to Seychelles officials, help was expected to reach the vessel by tonight.
Although the fire was put out, and none of the 1,000 passengers and crew was injured, there was a power blackout, and the crew was forced to make a mayday call for assistance. According to Costa, a general emergency alarm was sounded and passengers and crew reported to their muster stations.
Passengers robbed in Mexico
The latest Carnival troubles came on the heels of news that 22 passengers on the Carnival Splendor were robbed during a shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta last week.
There were no injuries, but the armed assailant made off with cash, cameras, jewelry and other valuables. The specific tour was the City Tour & Tropical Jungle Escape.
All the guests returned safely to the ship and disembarked Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., following the weeklong Mexican Riviera sailing.
In the Mexico incident, Carnival issued a statement saying that "numerous authorities were notified and responded to investigate, as well as assist the affected guests. The tour in question has been suspended until further notice.
"Carnival sincerely apologizes to its guests for this very unfortunate and disturbing event and is providing its full support and assistance."
Agents: no big impact
Agents said they don't see the Carnival robbery in Puerto Vallarta having a big impact on bookings.
"All things considered, with everything going on in the cruise industry, this is much smaller than other events this year," said Greg Coiro, CEO of cruise-only agency Direct Line Cruises in Hauppauge, N.Y. "I'm not even worried about this incident."
Chuck Flagg, co-owner of The Flagg Agency, a Cruise Holidays franchise in Georgia, said the incident might worsen what he called the unfair "bad reputation" of Mexico. Flagg noted there have also been robberies of cruise passengers in Nassau and Jamaica in recent years.
"No place is 100% safe," he said. "And I happen to love Puerto Vallarta."
'Could happen anywhere'
Patrick Webb, owner of GalaxSea Cruises in Walnut, Calif., said his agency had received no calls from clients about the events in Puerto Vallarta.
“This seems like an incident that could happen anywhere, and it is being seen as a ‘one-off.’ Now, if all of a sudden week after week passengers started getting robbed, that would be a different situation.
“But I think people realize the cruise industry has taken the responsible steps in modifying itineraries as needed in Mexico. They've cut out Mazatlan, doubled up on Cabo.
“But, Puerto (Vallarta) is not a concern honestly. I was just there on a Disney cruise and the town was pretty lively. I've got a group of 75- and 80-year olds going there on a Princess cruise shortly, and not a one has expressed any concern.”
Fewer Mexico cruises
Prior to this incident, cruise lines had already cut port calls in Mexico in the wake of U.S. State Department travel warnings over drug-related violence.
Major lines including Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian and Disney last year dropped the port city of Mazatlan from itineraries and have not returned.
Princess Cruises also avoided Puerto Vallarta on several cruises, but had planned to return later this year. Holland America dropped Acapulco from wintertime sailings.
Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department advised visitors to defer non-essential travel to some parts of Jalisco, the state where Puerto Vallarta is located. Specifically, the State Department warned of troubles in areas bordering the neighboring states of Michoacan and Zacatecas, due to reported gun battles between criminals and authorities.
There is no warning against traveling to Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, but travelers are advised to exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in Jalisco.
Ana Figueroa contributed to this report.