Main menu:

ABC’s “Troubled Waters” = Troubled Reporting

Written by:

Last week, as news of the fire on board the Carnival Triumph, causing her to be adrift in the Gulf of Mexico (with limited emergency power), began to emerge, the media “sharks” began to circle the “details” of the incident.

Much has been written about the 4 days it took to have tug boats bring the ship, and it’s passengers and crew, to Mobile, Alabama, as well the extremely trying conditions on board the ship. I won’t be recounting that again here.

I do believe Carnival does need to investigate this incident thouroughly, and not just the cause of the fire that disabled the ship. But, as the ship had experienced “propulsion problems” on previous cruises, perhaps some signals of upcoming potential problems were badly managed, or ignored. And I believe Carnival should answer those questions.

I will say, that like me,  no one would have chosen to be on this ship, to endure the conditions which occurred. Those who were on board were caught in horribly undesireable circumstances; thankfully not tragic.

When the ship was finally docked at the pier in Mobile, CNN had a team of Erin Burnett and Martin Savage dockside to report on and interview disembarking passengers. Their purpose was clearly obvious; they were looking for “blood”; passengers to speak to the deplorable scenes of horror that they were forced to survive on board the “cruise from hell”. They were desperately searching for stories of the trauma these people had experienced.

I watched their coverage late into the night, and it became apparent quickly, that the vast majority of the interviews they were getting, even while leading interviewees to supply the “gory details”, were passengers talking about how wonderful the crew was in extremely trying circumstances, and the way family, friends and strangers came together to help each other through it (both physically and socially).

That was best demonstrated when, during one interview, CNN reporter, Martin Savage, tried to compare the experience and isolation the passengers must have felt to Hurricane Katrina.

The passenger, to paraphrase, told Mr. Savage… are you kidding me? Katrina was a major horrific disaster that costs many people’s lives, we were “on a frickin cruise ship”.

They spoke to another family, encouraging them to tell their “horror stories”, but instead got the story of the women’s aunt who required dialisis. And who the cruise line did everything necessary to organize her evacuation from the ship, to get her to a facility where she could get the required dialysis.

Following the CNN coverage, on the evening of Feb. 15/12, I happened on a program, on ABC television’s 20/20, called “Troubled Waters”.

After watching this show, I actually felt dirty; like I had just finished reading all the trashiest tabloid newspaper articles ever printed, after watching a 24 hr marathon of the Jerry Springer show. Though that may elevate the 20/20 show more than warranted.

This show represented the most skewed views of the cruise industry I’d ever seen, with a clear direction to prove their points with the most incredibly convoluted thought process the trashiest reporter could possibly come up with.

The show trolloped it’s way through a number of “cruise disasters”, from the Carnival Triumph and Splendour incidents; the Costa Concordia disaster; rogue waves which have hit ships; wild crew partying and drunkeness on board; “cruise ship disease – Noro-virus”; inadequate medical facilities on ship; etc. etc etc.

This show was simply a “hit parade” of cruise reporting. It’s sole purpose was to install fear in the uninitiated public, who know little to nothing about cruising, or the cruise industry.

Though I write and report on the cruise industry, I am not a “cruise industry cheerleader”. I freely admit, and write about problems, and problem areas within the industry (as you can see reading some of my old blogs, and indeed, next week’s blog). And, I admit there are some cruise and travel industry writers who are “industry cheerleaders”, who prefer write only positives about the industry, and excuse the bad.

For example in reference to the 20/, 20 discussions on shipboard medical care,  when one boards a ship, they would be absolutely foolish to assume there are doctors and medical facilities on board equal to a land based hospital.

What you have on board are facilities more equal to walk-in medi-centers on land. The difference, of course, is on land, if the problem is too serious for them to deal with, you can be transported by ambulance to a hospital or trauma center.

On a ship you may be hundreds of miles from any land when your medical emergency arises.

The show mentioned the incredibly high cost if it’s necessary to be taken off a ship by helicopter, if a serious emergency arises. Of course, it forgot to mention (or recommend) purchasing travel insurance -available exactly to protect yourselves from this eventuality.

The show interviewed a past cruise ship employee talking about having to work between 80 – 100 hrs. a week, and in the next breath talking about the wild drinking parties every night. The interviewer never thought to ask where they found the time for all that partying when working 100 hrs. every week; after-all there are only 168 hrs. in a week.

There are some dangers when taking a cruise. These are floating cities, and elaborate mechanical plants.  Things do happen. But this show made no mention of the 20 + million who cruise every year incident free.

It was a incrediblly useless, tainted and intentionally biased example of “false journalism”, pretending that anecdotal incidents are the norm, and every day facts of the industry.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

Related posts:

  1. Cruise Insurance One of the sad facts of life is people die....
  2. Safety Concerns; Cruise Passengers Should Be Aware Earlier this month the Carnival Splendor suffered an engine room...
  3. More Harassing the Cruise industry Carnival Triumph was seized by order of a federal magistrate...
  4. The Service Dilemma; Under-trained Staff & Under-trained Cruisers Note : This blog post (below)  was written prior to the...
  5. Norwegian Epic “Un-Freestyle” Update Last week I posted an article which discussed some shortcomings...


Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time February 20, 2013 at 7:17 am

I feel that the to install fear into the unitiated public , such members of the fear this public would probably never take a cruise and be content to basically stay home and probably never travel anyplace. There are such people in all walks of life and live everywhere. However, to be fair and honest, I did not watch nor would I watch, any demeaning of the cruise industry. What happened happened, regardless of cruise line or where the ship was built.

During my over 4 decades of cruises and crossings, I have encountered many unpleasant circumstances, thankfully long before instant texting and messaging.

For those that could not get enough of the sordid news that the press released, some more sordid than others, great. Thats why such trash as the reality shows thrive. I for one do not watch that garbage.

And, as for the reporteres, remember, Ron Burgundy, and all of the reportes out there, they merely READ what they are given and not paid to think.

Comment from kevin
Time February 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

I disagree entirely. I admit the news coverage was skewed against cruising but we invite this sort of thing by repeatedly shooting ourselves in the foot. Fires, breakdowns, sinkings, crew hours, norovirus issues and all the other negatives that crop up repeatedly because of cruise line stupidity and sheer ineptitude. Carnival should hang it’s head in shame for this incident. Anything else is folly.

Comment from Steve
Time February 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Sir, “propulsion problems” can’t be ignored as the Owner (Carnival) must answer to the Classification Society every time an engine loses power. The “Carnival Triumph” has enjoyed better marks from the CDC in the past 4 years than she did from the previous 4 years too. The point of your blog is taken; reporters want blood, they are not shipping people. Roger Cronkite would be ashamed.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time March 7, 2013 at 5:30 am

Marks for any ship with the Center for Disease Control, CDC , have nothing to do with the incident that befell the TRIUMPH.

I think in all fairness to the passengers and crew that had to put up with the fiasco, the blame certainly must be placed with the owner of the ship, and the probable training of the crew, maybe even officers, that were in charge during the incident – there were reports that the ship had problems on the previous sailing.

In the short time of the event, the cost for the cruise line was great, refunds, free cruiss – the eventual group law suit and all – would it have cost a lot less if the cruise was canceled? Maybe, maybe not.

Be that as it may, the owner is Carnival.

Write a comment