Carnival’s reputation slips deeper, and drags the rest of cruising with it

//Carnival’s reputation slips deeper, and drags the rest of cruising with it

As a leading US Senator describes Carnival Cruise Lines‘ answer to his questions about safety as “shameful,” the company’s public image crisis sinks deeper and deeper.
TV talk-show host Jay Leno joked that instead of sending a navy warship to North Korea, America should send a Carnival cruise ship. “Just the stench …” would scare the Koreans, he said, referring to reports that toilets overflowed when Carnival Triumph was left without power for several days after an engine room fire in February.
And on the David Letterman show, comedian Martin Short performed a reworking of If They Could See Me Now with lines such as: “Out on a Fun Ship cruise, it’s not at all as bad as it looks on the news. Sometimes the engines stop and we’re set adrift, at least we’re right side up unlike Italian cruise ships,” and “We’re like a Viking funeral without the flames, these little problems seem like blips – you’ll soon forget ’em – Carnival, we’re full of shit.”
He joked that he had been made a “very, very generous offer” to endorse Carnival and was thrilled to accept – “when I learned the commercials would be filmed on land.”
With this sort of response being broadcast nightly on American television, it’s not just Carnival that is suffering, it’s the whole of the cruise industry.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Transportation and Science, had written to Carnival about a claimed 90 “serious events” affecting the company’s ships in the past five years.
Engine room fires on Triumph and Splendor alone had, he said, cost the US Coast Guard and Navy $4.2 million to provide assistance. Did Carnival have any plans to pay recompense, he wanted to know.
A letter from Capt James Hunn, senior vice-president in charge of the company’s corporate maritime policy, said 83 of the incidents cited by Rockefeller were not serious marine accidents as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations, and that allegations of rotting food and raw sewage on board afflicted ships were inaccurate.
In response to demands for compensation, Hunn cited 11 cases where Carnival ships – in keeping with maritime tradition – had come to the aid of the Coast Guard in the past 12 months.
CEO Micky Arison, perhaps still stinging after his other major business interest, the Miami Heat basketball team, just lost a near record-breaking 27-game winning streak, told Rockefeller that after the pair’s meeting last year: “I left with the impression that you were satisfied with my responses.
“I assure you, as I did during our discussions, that we remain committed to the safety and comfort of our guests and we are proud to provide millions of people with safe, fun and memorable vacation experiences.”
Commenting on the reply, Rockefeller said: “Carnival’s response to my detailed inquiry is shameful. It is indisputable that Carnival passengers deserve better emergency response measures than they experienced on the Triumph. I am considering all options to hold the industry to higher passenger safety standards.”
Carnival makes much use of its Facebook presence to provide information on incidents relating to its ships, and was quick to react this week when strong winds in Mobile, Alabama, tore Carnival Triumph from the moorings where it was being repaired.
Senior Cruise Director and brand ambassador John Heald is a regular presence there and on his own blog, passing on valuable updates among his jokes, recipes, and answers to passengers’ questions.
The most prominent addition to the page yesterday was this somewhat grotesque “Family Fun Moment” (below). Although given the overwhelmingly favourable reaction from Carnival customers, perhaps they are doing the right thing after all.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:35+00:00 7 April 2013|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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