OP man returns following Carnival Triumph cruise disaster - KCTV5 News

OP man returns following cruise disaster, news hasn't stopped others from booking

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Most of the passengers from the crippled Carnival cruise ship Triumph spent the night in hotels in various cities.

Tugboats hauled the broken down Triumph from its berth in Mobile, AL, to a shipyard Friday. The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the cause of the engine fire aboard the ship and the extent of the damage.

Triumph may be moved to the Bahamas for cleanup and repairs because it's registered there.

An Overland Park, KS, man was one of the 3,000 passengers aboard the stranded Triumph cruise line.

Joe Perkin is one of the passengers who was stranded on that cruise and he finally began his trip back home to Overland Park from Mobile late Thursday night.

When he disembarked, he joked that he took a robe from the Carnival cruise ship. He said he did not pay for it, but he figured the company owed him at least that much.

Perkin also talked about the crew on board the Triumph, saying they handled it as best they could. He said, first and foremost, the crew did pretty good in managing expectations, thinking through all of the information before telling the passengers in order to keep everyone safe and calm.

He was amazed at what they had to go through to handle the stressful time.

"Some of them I know didn't sleep. In fact, we saw the guy in our floor, one of the guys saw him, he was asleep on the floor. He had basically a sheet over him and a pillow getting a couple hours of sleep," Perkin said.

Perkin's sister said he was set to arrive at KCI about 5:30 p.m. When he landed he said he's never been so happy to see his wife, kids and Kansas City.

He and the other passengers spent days on end in a cruise ship that was essentially dead in the water with no power, no running water, sporadic working toilets and, at times, raw sewage in the hallways.

Perkin said he could handle all the problems on the ship, but the biggest thing he worked to get through was trying to communicate with his wife, Erica.

"There were really two places on the whole ship, imagine 3,000 people trying to charge their phones," he said. "And it was kind of one of those deals where you said, 'OK, there's been a fire, there's this food question' and then people are told they can't charge their phones." 

Perkin said he was refunded for the cruise, given a voucher for another cruise and $500. He said he's going to take them up on the offer and skip any legal action against the cruise line.

If someone is considering taking a cruise any time soon KCTV found out what their rights are as a passenger, if something like this happens on their trip.

KCTV5's Justin Schmidt spoke with a travel agent Friday, an expert in cruises. He said it's not exactly clear what passengers' rights are if their ship becomes disabled.

Adam McGinness with Cruise Holidays has helped thousands of people book a cruise.

"I don't know if $500 and free cruise will be enough for some people," he said.

He said even though cruises are heavily regulated, there is no passenger bill of rights like there is for flying. But that doesn't mean there won't be lawsuits.

"It's going to be kind of a wait-and-see situation if people start filing these and trying to get something else out of Carnival," McGinness said.

He's been working with clients who have cruises booked on the Triumph that have been canceled and said Carnival is giving them a refund and 25 percent off a future cruise.

"The airline tickets, that's a whole other issue of working with the airlines to try to get refunds. I know it has been a big headache," McGinness said.

He said even after following the Triumph story all week, he's not seeing many potential cruisers get nervous.

"I think, if anything, it's the people that have never been who are a little timid. (They're thinking) 'Is that the best travel option for me?' The people who have cruised before, they understand it's an isolated incident," he said. "They understand there are hundreds of ships out there every day, with people having a wonderful vacation."

In fact, McGinness said he wouldn't hesitate to set sail on the Triumph as soon as it's fixed and cleaned.

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