Sea shanty


When I first read that Carnival's Tropicale was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico with no power and a tropical storm asking to come aboard, I was a little nervous. The Tropicale is not exactly the jewel in Carnival's crown, making the situation sound eerily similar to that of the tempest-tossed S.S. Minnow.

My fears, however, were quickly assuaged by the follow-up wire stories, which said one engine was back up and the storm had changed course. Those stories also painted a picture of happy passengers having the time of their lives on an extended cruise, their brush with danger now no more than the stuff of cocktail conversation.

Then the ship limped into port and the passengers limped off. The stories, no longer filtered through the cruise line's media relations department, changed. Fire-breathing passengers started shouting tales of overflowing toilets and raw sewage in the hallways. Claims of sea sickness, a shortage of clean drinking water, no phones, no air conditioning...let's just say they're not a happy bunch.

Carnival, for its part, denies many of the charges and downplays the rest. They wisely have decided to take the high road where restitution is concerned: full refunds, a half-price cruise and, thankfully, protected commissions.

By now, though, lots of those passengers have located their attorneys' phone numbers. This ought to be good.


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