And this is just the beginning, as the Carnival Triumph is still
limping its way home to port in Mobile, Ala., after being stranded
at sea for five days following a fire in the ship's engine
Well aware of the potential fallout, Carnival Cruises' crisis
team has sprung into action. It created a dedicated page on the
Carnival website for news updates and has been consistently
updating its Facebook page, which has more than 2 million likes. It
is also using two Twitter feeds (@CarnivalCruise and @CarnivalPR)
to issue updates, such as "We've taken more than 7,000 calls from
family & friends & have been in regular contact with our
guests' designated on-shore contacts."
In addition, more than 200 Carnival employees are on the ground
in Mobile, Ala., ready to assist disembarking passengers. And
Carnival is offering every passenger $500, a flight home, a full
refund on their booking on the Triumph, a credit for a future
cruise and reimbursement for most of their onboard purchases. The
company has also secured hotel rooms in Mobile for family members
of people stranded on the ship.
Carnival, said social-media expert Allison Matherly, coordinator
of digital engagement for Texas Tech University, on her blog is "not only being transparent about
the situation, but they are actively talking about it."
That's not to say there haven't been hiccups. Carnival owner
Mickey Arison was lambasted on the web for sitting courtside at
Tuesday night's Miami Heat-Portland TrailBlazers basketball game as
the crisis continued to unfold. Mr. Arison owns the Miami Heat.
And the hashtag #cruisefromhell has trended on Twitter.
Carnival spokesperson Joyce Oliva said the company has no plans
at the moment to do any advertising to reassure its customers about
Carnival or cruising in general. "Right now, that is not our
concern or is something on our radar," Ms. Oliva said. "I can't
tell you 'Yes we're going to do this or no we're going to do
Much depends on how Carnival responds when the Triumph finally
reaches dock. It was initally slated to dock between 3 p.m. and 4
p.m. on Valentine's Day, but setbacks kept moving back the time --
to 7 p.m., then between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The current estimation
is now midnight on Feb. 15, and it could several hours to get all
the passengers off the boat.
Carnival will also suffer an earnings hit due to the crisis. Its
stock fell from a high of $39.10 at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, to
$37.75 at closing Feb. 14. The company said it expects to lose
eight cents to 10 cents a share in first-half earnings due to the
incident with the Triumph -- partly due to lost bookings as the
ship goes into drydock for two months, affecting 12 scheduled
sailings, and partly due to lost bookings on other Carnival ships
from consumers wary of the brand.