Carnival Cruise Lines seems struck by a major crisis every year


Carnival Cruise Lines had a rough week, but not as rough as the 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board the Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico.

In January last year, the cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a rock, capsized and is now the focus of the largest salvage effort in decades.

Before that, flu epidemics broke out on cruises.

The company obviously has experience dealing with crisis. And, for the most part, it handled the Triumph problem as well as could be. Sensitive to social media, the CEO and PR staff did the best they could. No one died, but a lot of people planning cruises in the next few weeks and years probably grew a little queasy about the whole mess.

The stock fell. Bookings will surely suffer. And the company’s bottom line will take writeoffs based on the emergency, various refunds, flight, bus and hotel costs and others. Not sure if the company has insurance for events like this, but if it is an option, the company likely took advantage of it. Lloyd’s of London has been insuring ships since they only moved by the wind.

The issue now, of course, is how does the line stem the flow of sewage — both aboard ship and all over its reputation — in meaningful ways to maintain its brand and show responsiveness and sensitivity.

Human nature can be forgetful — I had to double-check whether the Costa Concordia was a Carnival Cruise Lines ship. That will help. Come next February, a lot of people, especially in cold, snowy, northern cities, are going to want to get on a ship to anywhere but where they are.

Surely, given all the negative experiences Carnival endured recently, its business model includes various levels of risk anticipation and management. The cost of something like this event has to be part of the business plan and reserves had to have been set aside.

But overall, it gets down to operations. Whoever manufactured the generator that failed on this ship, and the ship’s designers, will have a lot to answer. Lawyers will circle. Liability will be argued.

Was there not a back up generator, or a back up to the back up? Come on folks.

There are no easy or readily available answers. But Carnival sure seems snakebit.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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