The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 14, 2013

After days stranded at sea, now comes the bus ride

(Continued)

Meanwhile, officials in Mobile were preparing a cruise terminal that has not been used for a year to help passengers go through customs after their ordeal. The Triumph is expected to arrive Thursday afternoon.

Mobile Mayor Sam Jones questioned the plan to bus passengers to other cities late Wednesday, saying the city has more than enough hotel rooms to accommodate passengers and its two airports are near the cruise terminal.

"We raised the issue that it would be a lot easier to take a five-minute bus ride than a two-hour bus ride" to New Orleans, Jones said. Jones said Carnival employees will be staying in Mobile, adding he was not told of the company's reasoning for putting passengers on extended bus rides after their experience at sea.

"I don't know if the passengers even know that," Jones said.

Earlier Wednesday, Carnival Cruise Lines canceled a dozen more planned voyages aboard the Triumph and acknowledged that the crippled ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems in the weeks before the engine-room blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the cause.

"We know it has been a longer journey back than we anticipated at the beginning of the week under very challenging circumstances," Carnival President and CEO Gary Cahill said. "We are very sorry for what our guests have had to endure."

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen acknowledged the Triumph's recent mechanical woes, explaining that there was an electrical problem with the ship's alternator on the previous voyage. Repairs were completed Feb. 2.

Testing of the repaired part was successful and "there is no evidence at this time of any relationship between this previous issue and the fire that occurred on Feb. 10."

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