April 17, 2013 -- Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's biggest ship operator, announced plans today to add $300 million to improvements that would upgrade safety and create redundant power systems on its entire fleet.
Added to a previously announced program, the line will put between $600 million and $700 million into improving its ships to avoid incidents like the one that occurred on its Carnival Triumph in February. Power went out on the Triumph and more than 3,100 passengers were stranded at sea for several days. The cruise line has had several problems since then, including another ship stuck at port with a power outage.
Captain David Fish, the Coast Guard commander who oversees all marine investigations, told ABC News' Matt Gutman that six investigations of three Carnival vessels are under way.
The officer didn't yet know if the power/propulsion failures on those ships is systemic, but the steps outlined today by Carnival, which operates 10 brands including Princess and Cunard, are aimed at reducing the chance of future incidents. Carnival also owns Costa, whose Concordia ship hit rocks off the coast of Italy and capsized on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 people.
The systemwide improvements outlined today include: An increase in emergency generator power across Carnival Cruise Lines' fleet of 24 ships and additional investments in the newest and most technically advanced fire prevention, detection and suppression systems. All of Carnival Cruise Lines ships will have two separate, redundant engine rooms.
"Although every ship in our fleet currently has emergency back-up power which is designed to enable the continuous operation of safety equipment and some hotel services, it is our intent to significantly bolster that back-up power to support the core hotel services. With this improvement, we will better ensure guest comfort in the rare instance of a loss of main power," said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.
Carnival also announced the formation of a Safety & Reliability Review Board of "outside experts with significant expertise in marine and occupational safety, reliability and maintenance, marine regulatory compliance and quality control/assurance."
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave an "unsatisfactory" rating to the Carnival Fascination, essentially a failing grade on a health inspection. A satisfactory rating from the CDC is a score of 85 or higher. The Fascination scored an 84.