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$300 million in Carnival improvements

– Carnival Cruise Lines on Wednesday announced a $300 million program to add emergency generators, upgrade fire safety and improve engine rooms on all 24 of its ships.

The announcement could help the brand begin rebounding from a wave of bad publicity that began in February, when an engine fire knocked out power on the Carnival Triumph.

Passengers endured filthy conditions as the Triumph was towed to Mobile, Ala., resurrecting stories of a similar incident from 2010 aboard the Carnival Splendor. Cruise sellers say prices for Carnival cruises have dropped as minor incidents with other Carnival ships have also made headlines.

Emma Jupp, president of Liberty Travel, which does about 25 percent of its business booking cruises, applauded the announcement.

“This is an important and well-timed decision by Carnival Cruise Lines that will provide both added reassurance and value to Liberty Travel’s strong base of cruise customers,” she said.

Carnival said the first phase of improvements involves installing an additional emergency generator on every ship to ensure operation of safety equipment and services like plumbing, fresh water and elevators in a power loss. The extra temporary generators will eventually be replaced by permanent generators.

Carnival is also installing high-pressure upgraded water mist systems on all ships to improve fire safety. All of those measures will be completed in 18 months, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill said in a phone call Wednesday.

Final upgrades will take longer, requiring drydocking to reconfigure cables that connect each ship’s two engine rooms, among other measures. That way, if one engine room goes out, the other will be unaffected.

Carnival Cruise Line’s parent company, Carnival Corp., owns a total of 10 cruise lines, including Princess, Holland America and Cunard. The company said all 101 ships from all brands will be assessed to see if similar upgrades are warranted. Carnival Corp., based in Doral, Fla., also owns Costa Cruises, whose Costa Concordia ship sank in 2012, killing 32 people.

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