Ashleigh Johnston, Account Executive

Finally! After weeks of my colleagues expounding their thoughts and reactions to various sports PR incidents, it’s my time to shine. Let’s chat about Carnival’s Triumph cruise ship, shall we?

Let me start by giving you some background information about me. My Disney knowledge is legendary but lurking underneath the pixie dust is another chunk of knowledge I have and it is about the cruise industry. I myself have taken 14 cruises, none of which on a Carnival cruise ship but not for any reason other than my family’s personal preference for another line.

If you’ve been following (and if you watch CNN, called it CNN’s 24-Hour Of Poop Ship so it’s been hard to miss), Carnival’s Triumph was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for several days without power. Rumors and stories began flooding the media regarding the status of the accommodations on board. It’s all pretty disgusting.

Bill Miltenberg wrote an article on PRNews commending Carnival’s president for being out in front of the media and using social media including YouTube to respond to questions in the early stages of the incident. But, the article also said that the entire cruise industry needs to be more visible now as well.

 Tweets have stated that the cruise industry is experiencing an onslaught of cancellations, so despite the fact that this was an isolated Carnival ship incident, people are afraid or at least concerned that this issue extends to other cruise ships as well. Since Miltenberg is suggesting the industry respond as a whole, let me be the first to offer some ideas on how the cruise industry can save face.

I would begin by saying that cruise ship incidents, like plane crashes, are the exception not the norm. Just like cars, these ships run for several years, some even decades now, and need maintenance. Most major cruise lines have a schedule for dry dock ensuring that all ships are tended to, renovated, updated and all equipment is running properly. People need to be assured that cruising is safe, the crew is meticulously and vigorously trained on all matters of emergency but there is always room for improvement.

People should also know what kind of tests the ships themselves undergo. What kind of weather are various ships designed to withstand? What kind of equipment is on board to prevent fires, to offer backup support should power be lost, and what kind of incidents call for the use of lifeboats? These are all questions any number of cruise industry executives can and should be answering.

We have to acknowledge that what the Triumph passengers endured was awful. But the competing cruise lines should be clamoring to the media to tell their own story, and offer up their suggestions for how such events can be better handled in the future.

I can say with complete honesty that this incident has not deterred me from taking another cruise. I don’t believe the Triumph sets the standard for any major line nor does it cause me any concern. When a machine breaks down, it does not mean that every single machine will have similar problems. The cruise industry needs to make sure the public knows this is an isolated incident but be open in communicating that they are working toward making sure that passengers are first and foremost always cared for, and their safety and well-being is top priority.

To read buzzfeed’s article on CNN’s 24-Hour Poop Ship click here.

To read Bill Miltenberg’s article on the PR behind Carnival’s response click here.