By now, virtually everyone in America knows about the mess that is the Carnival cruise ship Triumph. The ship suffered an engine fire earlier this week that resulted in the ship being without electricity and drifting in the Gulf of Mexico. The stories coming out of the Triumph were pretty ugly. Raw sewage was reportedly seeping down walls, food was scarce, air conditioning was out, the ship was wallowing in heaving seas, and people were definitely not having a good time. The LA Times wrote that the cruise was a cross between television’s Survivor and the novel Lord of the Flies.
Then on Thursday, as the ship was under tow to port in Mobile, Alabama, CNN started doing wall-to-wall coverage of the “cruise from hell.” And passengers have not been shy about sharing their feelings via cell phones on social media.
So for those of us living in the media world, the question we all need to ask is: How will Carnival respond and recover from this public relations mess/crisis/disaster?
- Ad Age reports that Carnival has done a good job with its initial response of compensating passengers and engaging in transparent, public communication. The bigger question, Ad Age says, will be what happens now that the ship is docked.
- Crisis communication expert David Bartlett, writing for CNN’s Web site, says that Carnival must show concern for making things right for customers, communicate what it is doing to prevent this from happening again, and work hard to restore the public’s trust.
- The Wall Street Journal notes that this may not be a long-term problem for Carnival because American consumers have notoriously short memories on crises like this.