Yesterday’s mishap on a Princess cruise ship in which scores of people were injured, two critically, is just the latest in a series of very scary setbacks that have hit the cruise ship industry like a giant rogue wave.
It seems like every month or so a new report is issued about food poisoning, collisions or, as was the case yesterday, some sort of steering malfunction that caused the giant ship to roll violently on one side and pitch passengers pell mell down staircases, slam them into walls, and also empty the swimming pools.
Princess issued an apology and promised to refund the tickets of all 3,100 passengers. But, in my mind, that’s not enough. I think this industry is going to suffer a major drop in business if it doesn’t address the problem. Too many passengers have had too many bad experiences on too many ships to ignore it any longer.
I’ve been on four or five cruises and have really enjoyed myself. In fact, my cruise to Alaska remains my single best vacation experience. That said, I’m really starting to have second thoughts about taking my family on a planned cruise to the Galapagos Islands next year. We’d love to go, but will I be unwittingly putting them in harm’s way by doing so?
If the cruise industry was a client and I was advising them on earning back the trust of people like me, I’d suggest the following:
1.) An extensive passenger/target audience survey to determine current perceptions of the industry. Is it as bad as I think? Or, are most people willing to risk life and limb for a romantic Caribbean cruise?
2.) If the survey shows the results I’d expect, I’d then commission some sort of panel headed by a travel & tourism/transportation expert. This panel would hold a series of tough investigative sessions to not only dig deep into the causes of the various problems but, like the 9/11 commission, issue a report suggesting system-wide infrastructure changes.
3.) Last, but not least, I’d counsel the industry to communicate the survey results, and the actions and recommendations of the commission throughout the entire process.
FYI, I recently engaged in a podcast debate with Ted "Ludacris" Birkhahn about Israel and how difficult it must be right now to get anyone to plan a vacation to that embattled State. I never thought that, a few weeks later, I’d be venting similar concerns about cruise ships. But, yesterday’s accident has prompted me to at least temporarily change course in terms of planning my next vacation.
I’m not booking another cruise until I know what’s going on.