UPDATE 1-Carnival Cruise to spend $300 mln on ship safety

Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:38am EDT

April 17 (Reuters) - Carnival Cruise Lines plans to spend $300 million to improve emergency power and fire safety mechanisms following a series of mishaps that curtailed cruises and angered passengers.

The cruise operator, owned by Carnival Corp, on Wednesday said the upgrades would improve back-up systems across its 24-ship fleet.

In February, its Carnival Triumph cruise ship was adrift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine fire, stranding more than 3,000 passengers without electricity and adequate sanitation.

More recently, the cruise line also had to cut short a cruise after an engine problem idled its Carnival Dream ship in St. Maarten and cancel a scheduled stop in the Cayman Islands for another cruise and return to Tampa, Florida after technical glitches affected the ship's sailing speed.

"By applying lessons learned through our fleet-wide operational review after the Carnival Triumph fire ... we have identified areas for enhancement across our operations," Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said.

Susquehanna Financial Group's Rachael Rothman said the new program was unlikely to have an impact on demand and was along expected lines after the company's announcement of a review.

Carnival Corp, whose cruise lines include Holland America and Costa, cut its revenue and profit forecast for the year in March, after the mishaps hit demand.

The world's largest cruise operator is also coping with repercussions from the sinking of its Costa Concordia ship in Italy in January 2012, which claimed 32 lives.

Carnival's stock was down marginally at $33.21 in mid-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. They have fallen more than 15 percent since December 2012 when it warned bookings would lag.

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