Cruising the high seas has become an increasingly popular way to travel, with over 14 million Americans cruising in 2010. Cruise fans love the convenience of unpacking just once and letting a floating resort take them from one glamorous destination to another. Cruise critics cringe at the stereotypical cheesy Vegas-style shows, 'round-the-clock buffets, and abbreviated shore excursions to the same chain retailers they can visit at their local mall. But all of us were thoroughly disgusted by this month's sordid tale of the Carnival Triumph, the mega-ship that lost power in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Four-hour waits for onion sandwiches sound bad enough from a ship that prides itself on a reputation for all you can eat. But just imagine 4,200 passengers and crew lining up to use 12 working toilets, and you'll immediately understand why observers dubbed the ship a "floating petri dish."
Carnival's spinmeisters clearly recognize a PR disaster when they see a towboat dragging it past them at 5 knots. They've agreed to give passengers a full refund for cruise and transportation costs, plus