Wave of Cruise Mishaps Capsizing Industry

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?

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2 Responses to Wave of Cruise Mishaps Capsizing Industry

  1. Brett Nachman says:

    Hi Valerie. Thanks for focusing on a topic that possesses both social and personal relevance. Having watched these incidents unfold on my television screen, I am disgusted by how some of these charters and lines have not compensated their passengers with enough tact and consideration. These threatening and emotionally-heavy scenarios may have not only scarred the voyagers’ experiences on board ships, but also their trust in how corporations respond to emergencies’ aftermath. Simply offering financial compensation is not enough. These passengers should be provided with extensive services that focus on the emotional trauma that often follows incidences along these lines. Sometimes, these more intangible factors are overlooked in an effort to save face from a financial standpoint.

    I actually just returned from sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line (DCL), and I continue to vacation with them because I have trust in how the fleet operates and responds to issues. Disney is consistently rated as the top-rated line for safety. From a health standpoint, Disney Cruise Line approaches these issues quite seriously. Hand-sanitizing wipes and dispensers are situated along nearly every hallway, especially in the dining facilities. The staff takes extra precautions to ensuring cleanliness. But, of course, a health nightmare could arise in even the cleanest of places. Nevertheless, I feel comfortable sailing with DCL and cannot wait until I have an opportunity to head aboard once again.

  2. Jacqueline Maxwell says:

    I think that overall, cruise companies do a fairly good job in responding to crises that deal with sickness or death on their ships. However, the cleanliness problems that many cruiselines have deters me from going on a cruise. In the most recent case with Royal Caribbean, the norovirus that affected many of the passengers on board was extremely contagious and probably caused by a lack of cleanliness on the ship. Hearing about that was enough to make me never want to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I think in order to go on a cruise, I’d have to do a lot of research about the company in order to feel safe. Disney cruises seems to be the most reputable for keeping passengers healthy.

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