Carnival Triumph dragged her sorry stern back to port after a harrowing and unhygienic five days of floating in the Gulf of Mexico without power or flushing toilets. Could it happen again? Two cruise industry experts offer perspective: Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor at Cruise Critic, and Jay Herring, author of "The Truth About Cruise Ships" and a former senior officer with Carnival Cruises.

How common are engine room fires and other meltdowns?

HERRING: These incidents are very rare -- maybe once a year, once every couple of years.

BROWN: Engine room fires happen, but 99 percent of the time passengers aren't affected.

Is Carnival to blame?

HERRING: Any ship at sea is at risk for a mishap.

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How serious was the situation?

HERRING: On a scale of 1 to 10, Costa was a 10. [Last year's Costa Concordia accident in Italy caused 32 deaths.] This is a 5 or 6.

Did Carnival handle the disaster well?

BROWN: This is a textbook case of how not to react.

Any heroes deserve a mention?

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BROWN: The crew kept everyone safe. The cruise line had better be generous to the crew.

Do you think Carnival's compensation package -- reimbursement for the trip, credit toward a future cruise and $500 -- is fair?

HERRING: I think the compensation is more than adequate.

Any advice for people now nervous about cruising?

BROWN: Any ship designed after 2010 must have two engine rooms. If you have any concern, go for a ship that has this new feature.