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'Stench cruise' fallout: Will it create a stink for Carnival and the industry?

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Although the latest cruise ship trouble lacks some of the Concordia’s drama – no fatalities, no destruction of a costly ship, no focus on allegations of gross negligence by the captain – it has its own potential for affecting the consuming public.

The Triumph’s loss of power (caused by an engine fire that was successfully put out on Feb. 10) occurred close to home for the American public and news media. And the reports from passengers during and after the ordeal brought home vividly what the loss of everyday amenities like plumbing and air conditioning might mean when several thousand people are wedged into relatively small quarters.

On Friday, the morning after the Triumph was towed into the port of Mobile, Ala., more details were emerging as passengers commented on their experience.

Passenger Julie Billings told NBC News that the experience “was like post-natural disaster, but stuck on a boat with 3,200 other people, and those poor workers trying to clean up after everyone and deal with everyone freaking out.”

Passengers also praised Triumph’s crew – roughly 1 in 4 of the people on the ship – for their hard work to make the bad situation bearable.

“They got everyone back,” says Dan Askin, senior editor at the online publication CruiseCritic. But it was “obviously a deplorable situation on the ship.”

He says such incidents are not common in the industry, although the Triumph case is bringing other past cases into memory, such as a 2010 parallel involving another Carnival ship, Splendor, that had to be towed back to port.

Mr. Askin says the company reported no adverse effect on pricing for bookings in the months following the Splendor incident. The company still bore a cost of about $65 million in compensating affected passengers and being unable to use the disabled ship for a time.

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