Recent cruise issues have some travelers reconsidering

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Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 3:23 pm | Updated: 9:14 pm, Wed Jan 15, 2014.

SARASOTA - Another wave of problems has struck a company that operates on the high seas. Carnival Cruise Lines has one ship limping back to port in Tampa with a damaged engine, and another stuck in St. Maarten.

These problems come just a month after the Carnival Triumph lost power at sea and left passengers without working toilets for days. So how much will this news scare people from taking a cruise?

Cruise ship passengers were making their way to the airport in St. Maarten Friday, because their Carnival cruise ship can't sail back home. "I was glad they stopped and took care of their people on the boat and not put us at risk, getting halfway back to port and then stopping," says one passenger.

In other words, this time they won’t be getting stuck at sea without power or toilets, like the Carnival Triumph did last month. Another Carnival ship, the Legend, will make it back to port under its own reduced power, but Carnival had to cut the cruise short.

And the headlines about making passengers miserable threatens to damage the cruise ship industry that caters to roughly 14 million Americans each year.

Traveler Natalie Roberts, who says she’s enjoyed her cruises in the past, is reconsidering her future trips. “Given recent news, I'm a little hesitant to book a cruise. We did look at it in the past few months and decided not to go with that option.”

They don't want to hear that at V.I.P. World Travel in Sarasota, which says that 75-80% of its business comes from people booking cruises. “It's making people laugh a little bit and think, 'oh I hope that doesn't happen to me.' but, so far, it hasn't changed it too much,” says owner Susan Knops.

She points out that Carnival has more than 4 million customers a year, and most of their trips go smooth sailing. But some experts believe that so many problems in such a short time can't all be coincidence. "Carnival has so many working ships, that to say that the fleet is in distress is maybe a little bit broad, but clearly something is not working right," says Professor Christopher Muller of Boston University.

And while that sentiment might deter some from a high seas cruise, others say the news about cruises does not scare them.

“I don't think it will change our minds. It would be the same with flying; I'm not going to change my flying just because there's an airplane crash,” says previous cruise passenger Diane Bennett. She took her cruise with a different cruise line.

Knops says that some people say, "I want to go on a cruise, but not with Carnival." But she says Carnival often offers the most for the money, and people keep booking their cruises.

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