Carnival Triumph cruise ship stranded without power in the Gulf of Mexico. (US Coast Guard photo)
MIAMI (AP) - A maze of maritime regulations and fragmented oversight of the cruise industry make it tough for consumers to assess the health and safety record of ships they're about to board for vacation.
No one entity or country oversees or regulates the industry. There's no central database for passengers seeking ship information.
The Coast Guard and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some ship safety and health information online.
In the case of the Carnival Triumph ship that spent days disabled at sea after an engine fire, vacationers could have gone to those agencies' websites before boarding, but they would have found mostly clean marks and few red flags.
And when something goes wrong, as it did on Triumph, there are limits to how much the Coast Guard can investigate.