SAN DIEGO (CBS4) – A pair of tug boats and a U.S. aircraft carrier are making their way to one of Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships which was crippled Monday off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire cut power to the ship.
The fire broke out in the forward engine room around 6 a.m, Pacific Time when the Carnival Splendor was about 150 miles south of San Diego.
Initially guests whose rooms were near the engine room were evacuated to the Lido Deck, an upper deck that opens onto the outdoors. The fire was reported out by 9 a.m. Once all the smoke had been ventilated from the ship’s hallways and corridors passengers were allowed to return to their rooms. Unfortunately, the fire damage left the 45 hundred passengers and crew without hot food, working toilets or air conditioning.
Last night, the ship’s engineers were able to restore toilet service to all cabins and public bathrooms, as well as cold running water, said the cruise line, however the air conditioning system was still out.
The U.S. Navy diverted the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan from training maneuvers to help. The plan is to have a plane drop off 35 pallets of supplies to the carrier and then use a helicopter to get them to the cruise ship.
The two tugs are expected to reach the Splendor around midday Tuesday and will tow it to Ensenada, Mexico. Passengers will then be bused back to the United States.
“We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience,” Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in the statement. “Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring.”
The voyage, which began in Long Beach, has been canceled. Carnival is offering passenger full reimbursement for the trip, along with any additional costs associated with returning early. All guests will also receive a complimentary cruise in the future that is of equal or lesser value than canceled trip.
The Splendor, which first saw service for Carnival in 2008, was on the first leg of a seven-day cruise that departed Sunday from Long Beach, Calif. The ship’s normal itinerary includes stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Miami-based Carnival operates the largest cruise fleet in the world, and runs the Carnival, Princess, Holland America, and Cunard lines among others.