Friday, February 22, 2013

Carnival Corporation PR nightmare

Picture via CruiseCrazies

It is safe to say that Carnival Corporation is smack dab in the middle of a public relations nightmare. The company is no stranger to this type of animosity directed at them, but this time, they may have really done it. Here's what happened:

The Carnival's mishap began when a fire exploded in the engine room, knocking out the power and leaving almost 4,000 people with no working toilets or air conditioning. Ultimately, the people onboard were stranded at sea for almost five days while the boat slowly made its way to dock in Alabama. What was the real kicker, however, was that the boat was scorching hot and had sewage literally dripping down from the walls. To me, this sounds like an absolute nightmare.

With the outbreak of social media, Carnival could not hide any of their customers' disgust or complaints. Among the first interviews with those onboard, the media learned about how passengers had to wait in line for four hours to simply receive a hamburger. They also covered stories about how people were throwing up over the side of the boat due to the awful smells. 

So how has Carnival decided to save their reputation and salvage this PR nightmare? According to Time Business and Money, Carnival gave all customers onboard a full refund for the cruise and travel expenses, reimbursement for everything purchased while on the ship, a credit towards a future cruise, and a $500 compensation. For all of the horror the passengers endured, one must wonder if that was enough to save their brand. The Wall Street Journal has concluded that, although this has definitely tainted their reputation, it is uncertain whether it will have a big impact on sales.

Personally, I feel that Carnival handled the situation in the best way that it could. They did not try to hide what had happened on the ship and were completely transparent about the fire and its consequences. The crew never gave up and my only suggestion would be that they should have evacuated passengers to another ship so that the agony did not even have to be endured. Lastly, I applaud the fact that  Carnival's CEO, Gerry Cahill, was there to greet the passengers when they arrived on land. It demonstrates that he knows that the company messed up and that he is not above being there in person. Also, his apology seemed rather genuine to me. Take a look for yourself and decide:

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