Travelers Still Avoiding Carnival After ‘Poop Cruise’

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Months after the infamous “poop cruise,” in which Carnival Triumph passengers were stranded at sea for five days without working toilets, Carnival Cruise Lines is still struggling to convince travelers to come back aboard its ships. Perhaps rock-bottom pricing and a new cruise passenger bill of rights will help the cause. But the fire that broke out aboard a cruise ship yesterday in the Bahamas — this one owned by Royal Caribbean, not Carnival — probably won’t make it any easier to coax passengers aboard.

In the immediate aftermath of the Triumph debacle in February, travel agents and industry analysts were saying that cruise sales remained strong, giving the impression that the whole episode would blow over and it would soon be business as normal. But it soon became apparent that the Triumph would severely hurt Carnival Cruise Lines not only because it was an especially ugly incident, but because it appeared to not be an isolated incident. A series of problems on Carnival ships—technical malfunctions, port stop cancellations, mechanical failures—followed the Triumph, apparently (and understandably) causing a falloff in bookings on Carnival cruises. The company was forced to discount cabins to fares of under $50 per day in order to boost occupancy.

As of last week, consumer confidence in Carnival still seemed to be an issue. Four-night cruises to Canada out of Boston were available starting at $159 per person, while five-night sailings began at $199—for an average of just $40 per night. That rate is for an inside cabin (the cheapest, arguable worst room on the ship), and taxes and government fees are extra. The total for the $199 rate for a couple comes to $564, which is still quite a deal.

Well, it would be quite a deal if the cruise went off without a hitch. After several high-profile problems have affected Carnival sailings in recent months, however, many travelers seem to be worried enough to steer clear of the Carnival brand, even at bargain prices.

(MORE: Is $500 Enough for Enduring the Cruise from Hell?)

Toward the end of May, Carnival announced that it was lowering its earnings forecast for the year, largely because in order to juice demand it has had to keep cruise prices low. In light of Carnival’s latest fire sale prices—and the fact that summer and fall are generally considered fairly slow seasons for cruise bookings—it looks like the company’s rates aren’t going to rebound anytime soon. What’s especially amazing is that, as the industry publication Travel Weekly reported last fall, Carnival was anticipating a long period of heavy discounting even before the “poop cruise” was dominating cable TV news:

“Broadly speaking, I think it’s fair to say that in order to keep demand going, we have been and will continue to have a fairly heavy spend in promotions and sales,” Carnival Vice Chairman Howard Frank said. “That seems to be driving the business.”

Pricing isn’t the only aftereffect of the poop cruise. In the wake of the string of ugly Carnival incidents, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) led a movement to pass a Cruise Ship Bill of Rights, ensuring passengers that they could, for example, disembark at port if a ship cannot provide basic provisions (like working toilets). Last week, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) adopted a cruise passenger bill of rights very similar to the one proposed by Schumer.

(MORE: JetBlue Proves There’s a Reasonable Way to Hit Us with Fees)

The association represents 25 major cruise companies, and each will post the rights on their websites. While Schumer applauded the action, he was concerned it didn’t go far enough. Here’s a snippet of the statement he released, published in the Daily News:

“While I believe that this passenger bill of rights is a step in the right direction towards increased accountability for the cruise industry and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its passengers, I still have many remaining questions, both on the content and how the bill of rights will be enforced,” Schumer said. “I will be asking the industry to respond to a set of detailed questions, and will continue to insist on changes to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers.”

(MORE: Ugh, More Travel Fees: Not Wanting to Be Left Out, Cruise Pile on New Charges Too)

The cruise bill of rights sounds like big news, but it probably isn’t. In many ways, it’s business as usual for cruise lines, who have been unofficially following these guidelines for years. “The Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights codifies many longstanding practices of CLIA members and goes beyond those to further inform cruise guests of the industry’s commitment to their comfort and care,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA, in a press release listing the “new” rights.

28 comments
UleNotknow
UleNotknow

"... taxes and government fees are extra." Don't stop there. There are also tips for services.

ADisorda
ADisorda

"loyal to Carnival and a shareholder".  Ahhh, yes.  I see damage control happening here.  Carnival stock was a sweet ride for a while.

LNKnowles
LNKnowles

I would much rather have been on the Triumph that on the RCL Barbeque of the seas.  The Triumph fire was immediately extinguished, the Grandeur fire burned for over two hours.  The captain says he mustered the passenger in an "abundance of caution" - no, he was planning to lower life boats because he was afraid that the fire would not be extinguished.  According to passengers who were  on board the Triumph, the only feces present in places it shouldn't have been would have been intentionally left there.  They all report conditions were not as bad as the media reports.  The folks on the Grandeur were fortunate that the ship was new enough to have the required redundancies in place for the generators to come back on and power the ship.  Had that not happened and they were further out at sea, it could have been quite disastrous.

I also find it interesting that no national news has published anything about the brand new Norwegian Cruise Line's appropriately named Breakaway.  The ship which was launched this month experienced problems during high winds on a return trip to New York which caused the dividers between stateroom balconies to rip off the welds and slam against the ship.

Stop focusing all your attention on Carnival report real news that people care about.  Those people who do not cruise, won't start and the ones who do will continue to do so.  From what I have seen Carnival ships continue to sail full, as do most other cruise lines.

PointsinBlue2
PointsinBlue2

Carnivals customer/agent services gets a big NO from me and my client.  After they booked the Triumph for the stated first sailing after the "poop cruise" and then broke loose from the repair dock, I expected there would be another cancellation.  Carnival issued a letter that stated it would honor the price and give a 25% discount plus $200 on board credit.  So, trying to book the third time with the promissed deal customer service refused to honor their letter.  My client canceled and then it took over 6 weeks to get the refund with so many excuses I lost count.  My client will NEVER book Carnival again.  And this AGENT won't either.  Bye bye guys! 

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

Lay off Canival for god's sake! What you are NOT reporting, is that carnival has instituted a $300 million program to make sure that in an event that one engine room failure, the other engine room is redundant and un affected, and will maintain hotel services like toilets, elevators, and hot food! Also not reported is the incidents among other cruise lines that happen JUST as frequently, but since Carnival is the largest line and creates the most revenue, the Maria automatically wants to vilinaze them. It is more safe to get on a Carnival ship than it is to take a seat on an airplane. I have taken 8 carnival cruises ( one on the carnival triumph herself) that have all transpired, incident free. I have number 9 booked, and working on plans to book number 10 on the fabulous Carnival Sunshine, a sister ship to Carnival Triumph. Just look at the cruise ship incident history found online and you will see that all the other companies have incidents too and just as frequent, that don't make media headlines altho not usually as catostrophic as triumph. Why does our news always want to make villains out of successful companies?

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

Lay off Canival for god's sake! What you are NOT reporting, is that carnival has instituted a $300 million program to make sure that in an event that one engine room failure, the other engine room is redundant and un affected, and will maintain hotel services like toilets, elevators, and hot food! Also not reported is the incidents among other cruise lines that happen JUST as frequently, but since Carnival is the largest line and creates the most revenue

MRK
MRK

My wife and me booked one of the bargain Carnival New England tours for later this summer. We have been on 3 cruises between us. Can't wait. I am sure some people who have had the misfortune of being on a airplane with mechanical problems well short of a crash never fly again. Their choice. 

gumshoo
gumshoo

If you gave me a free trip and included airfare you could not get me on one of those floating cesspools.  Floating gluttony with no thinking involved... woo hoo.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

In any kind of travel things can and might go wrong.  The recent RCCL and Carnival troubles amount to a very small % and they have amounted to huge inconvenience rewarded with refunds and future free cruises.  Sign me up.  I have been on five cruises and found each just awesome, from the relaxation of letting others get you there, great food whenever you want, good fun (shows, games, pool, sauna), opportunities to see places you have not seen, meet new people.  I'm sure that the industry will step up its maintenance programs and cruising will be as safe and as fun as ever.  No, I do not work in the industry.

ClytamnestraDunge
ClytamnestraDunge

@ADisorda 

well, now that those cruise ships are all stranded they can't let their employees just sit idle. so obviously they were instructed to 'go online and intimidate anyone who dares to speak ill of your beloved employer'.

dunno, i think offering a good service is a better long-term plan to attract guests.

dothecancan
dothecancan

@LNKnowles Actually, I loved cruising and have gone on 5 total. I have chosen not to cruise anymore because it simply is not worth the risk to me for that much money. Stop generalizing every statement you write, and you might actually write something worth reading.

pbug56
pbug56

@LNKnowles I've noticed that NCL has not released any details on the redundancy of equipment on this new ship, nothing to indicate that NCL has learned any lessons from what's gone on recently in the industry, or on its own ships.  IMHO, NCL destroyed SS Norway by not properly caring for her boilers and engines - thus dooming a well loved ship, one of the last of the great liners. 

On a separate note, Carnival does know how to properly build a ship - consider that it owns the Queen Mary 2, which easily survived an electrical room explosion a few years ago with a brief blackout before backup equipment was running - and the ship got underway a short time later.  But building ships the right way costs more, although it makes them a lot safer. 

I refer people to the SS United States, built in 1952, and sidelined after 17 years only due to excessive crew costs and a loss of government subsidies (it was also meant to be a wartime high speed long range troop ship).  The ship was built to be highly fire resistant, and had lots of reduncancy in electrical and engine systems.  BTW, the ship is still tied up in Philly, and despite all the peeling paint is still an amazing looking ship.  And still a great example of how to build a ship.  FYI, that ship could go faster in reverse then some of these hotel barges can go forward.  Today's hotel barges can't outrace a storm - and probably some can't survive a storm.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@LNKnowles Oh, you can call Grandeur "Barbeque of the seas" but what exactly do you think knocked Triumph out of service?  It wasn't a leak in the salad dressing machine in the kitchen.  Captain of Grandeur did not want to have another Costa on his hands which would have played out like this:  Prosecutor:  "why did you not muster customers to life boats"  Captain: "I was waiting to see if fire went out".  Captains are supposed to prepare the passengers for lifeboats at the earliest warning, not later.  Getting in the boats and lowering them is somewhat dangerous so they hold off on that until it is no longer safe to do so.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@LNKnowles  You would rather have been stranded at sea for days with no ac, no toilets, no hot food, no pool and eventually back to port than be inconvenienced for 4 hours and then flown home with refunds and coupon on hand?

pbug56
pbug56

@MichaelPiccolo That begs the question - why are these ships not built safely in the first place?  It's not like they don't know how.  Hey, even Titanic had tremendous reduncancy in boiler, engine and electrical rooms; even as much of the ship was already under water, the lights stayed on, helping those who could get to a lifeboat get off the ship on time.  SS United States has 2 of everything at least - independently operating.  Even Carnival's QM2 is properly built, unlike most of their other ships, IMHO.

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

You shoud just stay home and have your groceries delivered bad things can happen if you go outside. Of course there is always that tree tha could crash thru your window and kill you too. Good stay off the fun ships mor room and mor fun for those of us who are not a curmudgeon!

LNKnowles
LNKnowles

@notLostInSpace @LNKnowles quite frankly, yes.  I have friends who were on that cruise and by all REAL reports, they had food and water. Lack of AC proved not to be a problem as the ship came north. Ship stewards - the real heroes here- were sleeping in the hallways so passengers would be able to reach them, if they were needed.  Passengers who sailed with out passports would have had difficulties getting home if the ship had been towed to Mexico. I have sailed on this ship many times, will not hesitate to sail her again.  I am brand loyal to Carnival and a shareholder.  If you don't want to cruise, that's no sweat off my back, but my experiences and those of other platinum level cruisers will allow us to continue to board Carnival ships with the confidence that we will be well taken care of and that our safety is of utmost importance to the staff and crew.  If any of the reporters from the media had actually been on board the Triumph, I might have taken their reports seriously.  I found if quite entertaining that they waited at the gangway trying desperately hard to find someone to interview that would spew filth and venom, rather than the praise that passengers were giving the crew for their hard work.  I personally, find cruising to be the most restful and relaxing type of vacation and I will continue to cruise, unless I can learn to fly because I certainly do not plan to board commercial airlines any time in the future, near or otherwise.  Take care now, okay?

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

@pbug56 @MichaelPiccolo 

what makes you say that their other ships are not built right?  they are all built by Fincantieri Ship yard in Italy.  It's not like Carnival is out welding their own ships together.  One must also remember that Triumph was 13 years old at the time of her fire, and that means that 13 years of innovations have come and gone since she was fitted out with her systems.  Yes Titanic had a lot of Redundancy, but that was not exactly wires being melted by fire, it was insulated wires, partially submerged and it's still a wonder, even to other mariners how that ship kept power for so long.  As for the redundancy  of other ships during an emergency, you can't necessarily compare one to the other.  Just because there was an explosion on QM2 that was able to be isolated, it does not necessarily make her a Superior ship.  It's all in the circumstances.  Triumph may not have been a dead duck had the fire started in a slightly different part of the Engine room.  I think it is FAR more important to note how a company learns form an incident and makes efforts to not let it happen again, rather than blaming them with 20/20 hind-sight for something that one thinks should have been done before.  you also need to remember that even in the wake of these recent issues, Carnival carries a very good overall safety record.  and you also need to remember that in the grand "raffle" of things, the company that has more than twice as many ships in their fleet as even the next largest company, is obviously going to seem to have more issues. but when you put it into a per capita perspective, it's no more than anyone else.

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

@UleNotknow @MichaelPiccolo

here is my source you Curmudgeon.  and for your information I don't have a Boss to report to.  I don't work for any Cruise line or in the Cruise industry at all. I am simply coming to the defense of a company that has provided many Many great memories and wonderful Vacations for me.  As you will see in the Link below, Bad things do happen, But they are not Consistent to the same line as you say, they happen to ALL the cruise Lines.  Maybe an apology is in order for calling me a liar?  Put something sweet in your coffee this morning you're too Sour UleNotKnow.  As For My Source for the money that Carnival is spending on upgrades to their systems, it's on Carnival.com.  Now if you have something positive to say, lets hear it.  if you want to spew negative nasty Rude comments, keep it to yourself wit the rest of your negative energy. 

 http://www.cruisejunkie.com/events.html

UleNotknow
UleNotknow

@MichaelPiccolo "Bad things can happen." Yes, but when they happen consistently to the same line it's time to cut and run.

sergiosgal
sergiosgal

@LNKnowles @notLostInSpace 

I believe people like bashing Carnival because they do stay full all the time and people continue to come back. I have cruised Carnival 8 times and will always come back, Also I have coworkers who cruised Royal because they said it was a classier ship but came back to work saying no I dont care how classy Royal is I think I had more fun on Carnival and they are in their fifties so these Carnival bashers need to get a life

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@LNKnowles @notLostInSpace  You are attacking me, why I don't know.  I love cruises.  I'm simply saying that RCL handled it better (but with the advantage of observing what RCL mishandled)....4 hours of inconvenience and being flown home is better than 4 days of portypotties, no hot food, no showers, etc etc etc?      "lack of Ac not a problem" in the Gulf of Mexico; that is why people had to sleep on deck.   No one should sail without a passport, it is a bad idea.  Its ok to be a stockholder etc, I think you are right to defend the product you love.  I agree with you, things happen.  I know planes crash but that doesn't stop me from flying, it is a very small chance of risk with a great reward.  That said,  I don't fly anywhere I can drive to in 6 hours or less, and I don't know that I'd spend top dollar for Carnival right now.  You are correct about the staff, they are wonderful hard working people who are paid diddly squat and are largely abused by customers. 

MichaelPiccolo
MichaelPiccolo

@pbug56 @MichaelPiccolo you're telling me this as if I've never heard of the SS United States or the Titanic.  I have indeed heard of SS United States and I have contributed to the Conservation fund for her.  I agree with you that she was state of the art. as for Titanic, I don't know how you can say her systems were frequently tested, I mean really, how many times can they be tested in 4 days while under way?  I am not putting these ships down, but why would they need to build a North Atlantic ship to sail the caribbean? I still believe the only reason such a big deal is being made of this is that Carnival is the biggest and most profitable Passenger shipping company.  Americans LOVE to make A Villain out of anyone who is Profitable, or the leader in an industry. I still think it's safer to get on any one of Carnival's ships than it is to fly across the country, particularly over water.  have a malfunction on a 747, and there is virtually NO chance that you will be telling your story.  and lets face it, the think that pissed off most of Triumphs passengers is that they couldn't charge their Phones, and that information came directly from the mouth of a passenger regarding conditions and the demeanor of other passengers. The media totally Blew this situation out of porportion as if it had NEVER happemed before, and it Has. it has Happened to ALL cruise lines, not just Carnival  they CERTAINLY did not make such a big deal out of R/C fire on the Grandeur of the Seas.  I realize that it was not as big an issue, but it was still a Fire on a Passenger Liner the burned for 2 hours! and the media barely gave it a glance.  Why? because Royal Caribbean makes a LOT less money than Carnival so they are not looked at as the Bad guy... Plain and simple.


pbug56
pbug56

@MichaelPiccolo @pbug56   Carnival, IMHO, has the yards build the ships as gaudily and cheaply as they think they can get away with.  QM is an exception to their usual designs because it had to be built to handle the constant pounding of the North Atlantic, and because if a ship loses power and propulsion there you have a massive disaster in the making.  In the case of the QM explosion, QM's highly separated electrical systems saved the day.  In the case of non-Triumph, a fire in an engine room appears to have taken out their entire electrical system even though there were said to be 2 engine rooms.  How you do this really matters.  Now Carnival knows that if they don't do some upgrades they will go out of business.  I mentioned Titanic because it was designed for redundancy.  Multiple boiler rooms, separate engines that could operate individually even if another engine couldn't, the best electrical generation plant afloat at the time, and probably better emergency power generation then Triumph (and Titanic's was frequently tested).  Also, steam from one boiler room could be rerouted to different engines or generators if the normal supply were interrupted.  And then there's the SS United States; in 1952 it was designed and built so that even if one engine room were torpedoed, the ship could still maintain 'hotel' power and decent propulsion (the ship was not just the fastest liner ever built - 38 + knots, it could be converted to a troop ship and sail 10k plus miles without refueling).  In 17 years in service, it was NEVER late due to mechanical problems, and easily handled gale conditions and worse in the North Atlantic.