Cruise Revenues Sinking Along With Carnival’s Image

Carnival Cruises. A company once synonymous with fun, laughter, smiles, relaxation and wonderful memories. Now, the general public associates the line with danger and inconvenience, unpredictability and fear. Imagine deciding to take a cruise as the first vacation you’ve had in five years. Twelve hours in to the trip, the ship breaks down, power goes out, food runs low, and you end up using a plastic bag as a toilet. This is nightmare material, and it happened in real life a month ago.

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It’s been one disaster after another for Carnival Cruises. From 2012’s Costa Concordia (a branch of Carnival) tragedy, to another ship stranded in the middle of the pirate-infested Indian Ocean, to the February Carnival Triumph “cruise from hell,” and three more Carnival ship malfunctions in the early March, Carnival Cruises is in the middle of a PR nightmare. And it doesn’t appear they will wake up any time soon.

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In February, the Carnival Triumph was stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire, leaving about 4,200 people trapped for days on the ship without water and power and a small supply of food. Some passengers referred to the ship as a “floating port-o-potty.” Now, in the past two weeks Carnival is facing THREE additional situations with three separate ships. On March 9, the Carnival Elation was experiencing steering issues. On March 13, the Dream was stranded at the island of St. Maarten with power problems. And on March 15, propulsion unit issues caused an unwelcome interruption in the Carnival Legend’s itinerary.

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So how is Carnival Cruises going to recover? The effect on the company, and the entire cruise industry, is catastrophic. A USA Today Poll shows that people are now scared of having a lousy time, but also risking their safety and well-being. The result? Travelers are much less likely to book a cruise. Thus far, the company has been using social media to update the public on logistics of its most recent misstep. In order to recover, Carnival needs to express concerns, provide solutions and consistently deliver reassuring messages as well as a reliable product. They need to be transparent and proactive. But how does a company of this magnitude even begin to remedy such a situation?

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3 Responses to Cruise Revenues Sinking Along With Carnival’s Image

  1. Tessa Turnbow says:

    The effect on Carnival Cruises is going to be terrible at first, no matter what. People are afraid to go on a cruise because they have appeared to be unsafe recently. I think Carnival needs to be proactive in showing the public what they are doing to make the cruise line safe and the changes they have made and will make. An effective strategy could be to have travelers who go on cruises tweet or Facebook comment about their positive experience on the cruise ship. This would show that people are enjoying their time on cruises as opposed to having a terrible time.

  2. Devon Shaw says:

    I honestly think this may be the kiss of death for Carnival. Their track record has taken a terrible turn these last couple months and I think it is extremely unlikely for travelers to choose this cruise line anymore. I think in order to save face and their reputation, Carnival should shut down their operations for a period of time to evaluate their clearly disheveled fleet of cruise ships. One or two bad cruise trips would be a disaster for any cruise line, but the amount of mishaps from Carnival has travelers rightfully questioning their safety. Not only that, but offering travelers aboard these disastrous cruises ANOTHER free cruise sounds like a terribly insensitive move. I would never want to step foot aboard a cruise again if I were trapped under these circumstances.

  3. Jessica Choi says:

    I agree with what Tessa has pointed out. Following any kind of PR disaster, Carnival Cruises is going to face challenges. But, with the help of effective crisis communicators, I think Carnival Cruises can turn its tarnished image back to what it was before: a company once synonymous with fun, laughter, smiles, relaxation and wonderful memories.

    Tessa mentioned Carnival Cruises being proactive with the situation. Showing the public what they are doing to make the cruise line safe and the strategies and plans of what they have and will make. Like all cases that involve a disaster, Carnival Cruises needs to keep in mind the precautionary steps by following their crisis communication plan (if they have one, that is). By stepping out and openly talking about the problems and what is being done to fix them, consumers and the general public are more willing to listen and hear what the company has to say. Tessa also makes a good point in suggesting social media strategies. By reviewing and commenting on customer feedback, Carnival can tailor problems they are currently fixing to fit the needs and wants of their stakeholders.

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