Are you convinced that Carnival did the best job it could have done with the media handling of the Carnival Triumph?
I just read this in the New York Times:
The passengers had left the Port of Galveston in Texas a week ago Thursday for what was to be a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. They ended up sleeping for five days on sewage-soaked carpets and open decks, with food so limited that they were reduced to eating candy and ketchup on buns.
Now - that is just wrong. No one slept on sewage-soaked carpets or lived for five days on candy and ketchup on buns.
CNN was just over its head with painting the worst picture possible of the ship. If you took what they said literally then the entire inside of the ship was awash in raw sewage and so people were sleeping on deck and living on Catsup sandwiches.
In fact, on the last day of the cruise people were eating steak and lobster, but CNN couldn't mention that without also bringing up "raw sewage" in the same sentence.
BUT - I want to ask you this. The same horrible publicity did not happen with Carnival Splendor. Just the opposite. In that case the Navy were heroes, John Heald was "great" in keeping up people's spirits. And most people came off saying "hey, it was an extra three days to party and make friends, I loved it."
1) Why did Carnival stop giving out alcohol on Triumph. There had to be a reason. It seemed to be one of the things that kept the people on Splendor mollified. I just wonder what happened.
2) Why no stories about the crew handing up food to the top deck as on Splendor? I do not recall the same stories of people being so hungry from Splendor.
3) Why was Carnival not making its own comments about conditions on board, or releasing its own pictures to show what it had done for the people? Why didn't they make a public announcement when the people onboard were suddenly being served hot food?
They let the media dominate the images of conditions on board and did nothing to reshape them. I even saw a quick press conference on shore where a PR spokesperson I did not recognize (and I know most of the Carnival PR people) made some statements, and then another person walked up to the speaker and said "come on, we gotta go", a reporter mid-question yelled out "You're not helping any..." when the PR guy walked away without answering the question.
I emailed Carnival and said "I would get John Heald on the air" - He was the hero who held Splendor together when it died. He lived through and managed that situation. Carnival could not have found a better person at the time. Of course I didn't expect them to react to what I said, and the only reply I got was "thanks, Paul." But it was a serious suggestion.
NOW - although I still believe Carnival did the best they could logistically under the circumstances, and I am sure that was taking up a lot of their time. Do you also see areas where Carnival could have handled the media better?
The most prominent complaint I heard, from both passengers and their families ashore, was the lack of communication from Carnival. They claimed they were not kept updated as often as they felt should have happened. This is often a weak point in any emergency situation. In April 2011, when the tornado outbreak took down a significant chunk of the TVA electrical distribution system (one EF-5 tornado passed a mile south of my house), my biggest complaint was the local power company not giving updates to the local radio and TV stations. None of us knew when we might get power back. Very frustrating. Same for those in the Hurricane Sandy area.
As for the Carnival news conferences, I felt it was a mistake to trot out the Senior VP for Marketing as the face of the cruise line. While Heald would have been a great choice, it probably should have been Cahill. Instead he didn't show up at the microphones until the ship is at the dock, which seemed to me like a cameo appearance. I have no doubt he was actively involved in the logistics, but that is not something the public sees, and thus the image is that of "well, it's here now so I'll say another mea culpa and then go help carry some suitcases off the ship". Almost like a photo op.
I can't quite figure out about updates. How often were they supposed to announce they were still stranded. When they got updates on arrival time, then furthur updates as the time changed, guess what, they complained about the changes in time.
I feel (and maybe they did) they should have had someone monitoring what the news was saying, especially about the sewerage problem. People were led to believe the passengers were sleeping in it, and walking through it at all times.(evidenced by someone filming a squishy area in a hall). Some clarification should have taken place.
The food, it should have been more monitored for the hoarding that took place. Did the hoarders complain? No. Guess who complained? It was those who got leftovers, then told families there was no food, they in turn gave interviews stating so.
Now that this has happened, I'm sure more plans will be worked on, perhaps more non perishable food will be stored, supplies that absorb moisture might be carried for wet floors and carpets. Some things people complained about was no baby formula and diapers (I think that's a bit asking for), but babies do eat. Maybe the laws will allow ships to carry items as Febreeze to hinder odors.
I certainly don't anticipate a repeat of what happened, but it's always possible. This has been a learniing experience for future cruises, just as Concordia taught us things.
"Now that this has happened, I'm sure more plans will be worked on, perhaps more non perishable food will be stored, supplies that absorb moisture might be carried for wet floors and carpets. Some things people complained about was no baby formula and diapers"
I was also thinking how the cruise lines plan the food so carefully for the number of days of the cruise - but why not also keep decent food in store?
If you fill a freezer with tuna sandwiches and corn chips they will last forever. Then when the power goes down they will keep. You just open the door long enough to bring out a day's worth and shut it again - the residual cold will keep them defrosting for the next four days.
There are also things you can cook with limited heat (as they had the last couple of days) such as powdered soup, (Top Ramen), canned soup, etc.
I am sure an intensive thought process could come up with MANY ideas. How about storing powdered and/or canned milk and cereal. You can make milk from powdered milk and fresh water.
Also - as you said, emergency cleaning supplies. You can probably use Sea Water to clean up sewage if you have mops and pails - at least short term. Why did they not think of these things after Splendor and put contingency plans in place?
My thinking is that Carnival expected that CNN would just drop the coverage if they kept quiet, (like they did with Splendor) but guess what, they made it the top story for the whole day. And the only reason CNN did that was because of the "sewage seeping down the walls" text on the first day - (which was not accurate as far as I can tell)
But I also have to say I still hate CNN. The Sandy Victims are still far worse off than these people were, and they won't mention it because of their politics.
I read an article yesterday that said the Triumph wall-to-wall coverage bears the mark of new CNN boss Jeff Zucker.
The way they played up the sickness angle, even after their in-house expert Dr. Sanjay Gupta was saying it was most likely not going to be a problem, among the literally dozens of misstatements they trumpeted. For example, a somber looking lawyer says the cruise industry doesn't have to comply with U.S. health codes. Of course we all know that is not true given the CDC compliance requirements as well as periodic health and safety inspections by the Coast Guard and local authorities in U.S. ports.
I agree with Dave Beers, having been on Conquest when Ike hit, my main complaint was the lack of communication. It was poor at best. Terrible in my opinion.
That being said listening to the talking heads on FOX and CNN is driving me crazy. No food for days? There WAS food, in fact I heard one pax say by the next day after the fire (Monday) the grill was working and they had grilled chicken etc.
CNN kept repeating things like the logistics of getting over 4000 off the ship last night as if they had no clue that over 1000 of those were crew.
The toilet complaint to me is real .. but some of the other exaggerated at best.
I just heard someone interviewed by Fox say "they spent five days with nothing to eat and sleeping in urine"
(this was guest in a head to head interview, not Fox).
But at this point if I was Carnival I would be putting out a fact sheet of what they did when, with pictures included. I am sure there are 100,000s of pictures on various people's cameras now available to be uploaded to the web.
Within the next two days I think this story will look completely different. But I am shocked Carnival is not trying harder with the media.
For a non cruiser watching the situation play out, I can see them shaking their heads and saying, never gonna cruise!!!
I think one truth, was the lack of communication, which was a constant comment.Even when they disembarked there was confusion it seemed, from someone speaking with a reporter while on their balcony. Many passengers speaking, praised the crew,as did a woman just off the ship, who wrote on John Healds blog, about how wonderful their cabin steward was. He actually slept in the hallway, along with his cabin guests, to help with anything they needed. Bravo!
Lessons will be learned,and the idea of keeping a constant supply of non perishables just makes sense.
At the pier, you could see they were steeering passengers away from the reporters,and the Carnival execs, almost took out a photographer with their golf cart, making a hasty, retreat.
Complaining sound bites always make a juicy story even jucier!....I feel for the crew and the passengers..A very rough cruise.
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It's a tough situation all around, the stories go full circle and I guess, we can believe something in the middle. We all know it was no picnic and there was no game plan in place for something like this, may-be in the future they will have a plan in place, for just in case...I am sure the next few days, we'll hear all kinds of stories....Yep, it was a media hype for sure, but certainly not a fun cruise.
Unfortunately, there was not much communication from Carnival, I think that makes any problem worse..
I think I'll skip 20/20. I am so sick of the media distortions. Meanwhile the first person has filed a lawsuit, claiming among other things, 'unsafe sea conditions' whatever that means.
Carnival really seems to be sitting in the corner of the ring letting the media continually land left hooks and stomach punches while Carnival covers their face with the boxing gloves. Silence implies guilt to many.
"Get the widow on the set, we need dirty laundry"...had this song running through my head all day yesterday watching the hyperbowl that was Triumph coverage. Disgusting. I hope some of the lawsuits include the media for causing the families pain and suffering by printing bogus news
People paid to go on a vacation and have some fun. OK, accidents can happen but the passengers on that ship must have been very uncomfortable. The media may not have all the facts but there is no point in sugar coating a sad situation.
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Regarding the media, I think the legal term is 'vicariously liable' since their actions, words, and deeds, added to the emotional pain and suffering. Sadly, they will hide behind the First Amendment. Personally I think some of the outrageous stuff reported yesterday, including getting young girls to cry on the phone (twice with the same kid), is no different than yelling fire in the theater. But then I would be excluded from the jury because I like cruises.
In the same way that there is no reason to sugarcoat a bad situation, there is also no reason to only focus on the bad to the point where you are purposely not reporting the full story because it would detract from the sensationalism.
Did you watch the CNN coverage? It was nothing but negativity the entire day, even when they interviewed people with a positive outlook their response would be "well, you certainly seem to be an uncommonly positive person."
That is called "slant" or "bias" - and I don't accept that anymore than I accept sugarcoating.
Facts are facts - not subject to interpretation. When you only focus on certain facts, instead of reporting the progress of an unfolding story, you are not reporting news, you are advocating a point of view.
What communication do people want? Is it being on the loudspeaker? Is it they've become glued to a cell phone and now withdrawal has set in? It seems everyone wants information at their fingertips with minute to minute updates.
As for disembarking, I was amazed at what Carnival put together for those people. The hotels, the buses to each place, the border patrol there before getting to port, the new staff to brigade luggage down stairs because of only 1 elevator, and the list goes on. Not bad for an unscheduled port to dock.
I hear one of the buses broke down, guess what? She said Carnival can't do anything right!
The simple answer is to say that Carnival was too busy making arrangements for 3000 passengers and 1000 crewmembers to deal with the media. However, that is a bad approach for them considering it is their reputation at stake.
They had to ask 3000 passengers what they wanted to do - then rebook buses and flights for ALL of them, and then communicate all of those details between a "dead" ship (they had internal communication) and the land-based offices. Then they had to forward that to all the right people who were not sleeping in their own cabins. THAT was a huge undertaking.
However, I don't personally think that is enough. I think they need to get the story out about how much they accomplished for the people onboard during the disaster - that it was bad, but that it got better.
Here are two interesting articles about the situation:
I interperated the lack of communication being related to passenger complaints.
I have to confess I don't understand your point. I thought they were referring to not knowing when the tugs would be arriving, what was happening with the toilets, etc.
The one story says they were not told when the toilets went off - so people used them not realizing they would not flush. That is bad - they should have been told immediately (and in fact I tend to think they were told, unless they thought they could get them working again - but that's one of those "make note to oneself - next time the toilets go down, tell people right away")
Well the media has a way of sensationalizing things. Until I find out otherwise this is the rule I live by regarding the media. Listen to half of what they say and believe half of that. They will put a spin on it.
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I posted this to John Heald as well as to a facebook page....
Now that the Triumph is docked and all passengers and crew have disembarked and the news media circus is winding down, I for one commend Carnival on the efforts that they made in taking care of the passengers. I cannot imagine the conditions nor can most of the talking heads on various forums and news outlets that are spouting their uneducated knowledge about the situation. It is all speculation on their part.
Will this deter my from sailing and especially sailing on Carnival? ... The answer is a resounding NO! . If one reads between the lines and listens intently to the passengers, yes the conditions were not pristine, no you can't run down the the corner McD's for a burger, no there was not any HVAC, Yes I'm sure the stench was bad (Why do you think so many were on decks?).
On the other hand, people came together to assist each other, the crew went out of their way to assist and make the best of a horrid situation, Carnival made the best decisions they could with the conditions (They will always be second guessed) and stood by the decisions made. Carnival went above and beyond compensating the passengers (if one reads the contract it's not required and pax could have nothing).
Will this deter me from sailing? ... IN NO WAY ... If anything it has strengthened my belief in Carnival (not that I am a dyed in the wool cheerleader for them).
I will not be a buzzard sailor waiting for a disaster hoping for price reductions in order to sail. I will do what and when I choose and with the expanding choices sailing from Galveston/Houston even having sailed Royal Caribbean, I will stick
with my belief in Carnival as the best bargain for the buck.
Thanks for your time in reading this rant and my you have smooth sailing.
I just read this article in the L.A. Times which seems fair and balanced. It also supports the observations made here, especially that some guests were hoarding food and water, and abusing the free alcohol provided one night.
Great fairly written article. It sure explains the onion sandwiches, I knew there was a story behind them, but couldn't figure it out.
The news people mainly talked to the negative remarks, but I guess that's what makes news tick.
Don't know if any of you saw ABC's 20/20 last night - Troubled Waters"... but it was THE WORST reporting ever!
A totally warped look at pretty much every negative comment ever on the cruise industry.
I was incensed... as you'll be able to tell in the Blog that I've written for this week (Wed.)
I missed the first minute or two, but what I saw reported made my blood boil. Good thing I couldn't get a hold of anyone through the screen. And the other segments of cruising were no better. The crew party segment was over the top.
I watch about half so far....yes, totally biased.....While this was a horrible accident, I felt the show was basically scaring people off cruising, and we all know that is not the normal thing that happens, most likely will never again.
Another angle I thought of today about the 'vegetable' sandwiches - beyond the onion sandwiches I have also heard reports of eggplant, tomato, and other sliceable vegetables being used for sandwich fillings - has anyone considered that not everyone on a cruise is a meat eater? Lots of vegetarians out there these days. Just a possibility I am tossing out there for consideration.
The eggplant got my attention because Royal Caribbean ALWAYS has sandwiches made with eggplant, tomato, and cheese, available at the 24 hour Cafe Promenade on their larger vessels. So, it is not unusual.
The Judge on FOX (Judge Jeanine (sp), trying to remember her name, is having a show tonight about this "nightmare" and "all cruisers are left with is a future cruise voucher" has been the advertising all day.
I heard a girl say they had free beers one day and she thought that had been a bad idea because so many got drunk and then there were rumors the drunks were going into wrong cabins and robbing people. Just goes to show let no good deed go unpunished.
It's 9:30 P.M. CNN just had a half hour interviewing 4 sets of people, they were great. 1st was the dialysis lady explaining how rough the waters were at sea while transferring her from a small boat to then get on Legend and taken to Cozumel, then flown back home. 2nd was a man in his 20's?, he was on the transport bus that broke down, then once on his plane, it had an electrical problem causing a late take off. Now he's got to connect with his car and hopes that won't break down too. Very upbeat. They said the kids had a better time than the parents.
3rd was the 4 ladies on the 40th birthday cruise, also upbeat. Two of the husbands were interviewed earlier. Last were 5 ladies on their first annual Divas cruise, they too were not negative. They were at the center of the impromptu mardi gras parade which turned out to be a big hit.
All of them avoided the subjects that others complained of as they had all decided to be positive.