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.
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?
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.