An outbreak of the norovirus on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas is only the latest in a chain of incidents for cruise lines.
In 2010, an engine fire left passengers aboard Carnival Splendor stranded in the Pacific Ocean without power for three days. Until tugboats pulled the ship back to San Diego, passengers subsisted on Spam and Pop Tarts.
Carnival’s Triumph also experienced an engine room fire in 2013. Dubbed the “poop cruise,” the trip left passengers without working toilets for four days before being pulled to port.
Power failure isn’t the only problem to plague cruises—while exact numbers are hard to find, Dr. Ross Klein of CruiseJunkie.com estimates that there have been more than 200 incidents of passengers overboard since 2000.
Of course, the most well-known cruise ship mishap is that of the Costa Concordia, which crashed and overturned off the coast of Italy in January 2012. The accident resulted in 32 deaths, and two years later, the ship remains partially submerged while salvage efforts have cost in excess of $800 million.
On top of dealing with injuries and deaths, cruise companies also face a great deal of negative press in the aftermath of such incidents.
Cruise companies generally respond by offering refunds, free cruises, and/or reimbursement of travel expenses. In the case of Costa Concordia, uninjured passengers were offered $11,000 to compensate for damages, and relatives of those missing or dead received compensation on a case-by-case basis. Ships that remain in use (and not half-sunk off Italy’s coast) often receive makeovers, like Triumph’s $115 million upgrade, which included safety improvements along with new bars and restaurants.
What do you think of cruise companies’ responses to incidents on ships? Would you go on a cruise despite the potential health and safety risks?