The cruise ship industry is sailing into troubled waters from an image standpoint

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 067198814 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.

4 thoughts on “The cruise ship industry is sailing into troubled waters from an image standpoint

  1. Rep Jr: I think you’re underestimating the size of the image problem the cruise ship industry is facing. Just recently, NBC’s Dateline aired a segment about young teenage girls being raped on cruise ships. Then, of course, there have been the mysterious deaths of people who either commit suicide or are flung overboard by person or persons unknown. Add mysterious illneseses to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a very serious industry image meltdown (and simultaneous loss of business).
    Note to Mike: thanks for your comment. Would love to hear a few more details about that particular cruise ship crisis if you can share.

  2. Interesting stuff, Repman. I remember last summer going on a cruise to the Bahamas with a friend and her family. About half-way through the cruise we were told that the ship we were sailing on (the Norwegian Dawn I think it was called) was hit by a 70 foot rogue wave only 6 months earlier. Needless to say, we were a bit shocked. Even though this was an act of Mother Nature, there is a certain amount of risk accepted by everyone who ventures on the high seas.
    You, of course, are talking about human error and the effects it has on the cruise industry. But, let’s face it… Human errors, just like savage acts of Mother Nature, are bound to happen every now and then. How can the cruise industry, besides cleaning up their food, prevent accidents? Perhaps that’s part of the excitement of going to sea. It provides a little extra excitement in an otherwise dull life. But, as the old saying goes, “accidents will happen.”

  3. Good analysis Steve. Royal Caribbean started the cruise biz crisis (I had a crisis PR client within their mess)and Princess and others just might turn it into the Poseiden Adventure.

  4. How about serving Rodent Contaminated meat on Cruise Ships?
    There is an ALARMING food contamination issue that is being covered-up by the state of Florida and the USDA. I want to bring this issue to the attention of your readers. What if I told you there was a meat production plant that was infested with RATS and RAT FECAL MATTER & URINE had contaminated millions of pounds of meat products that the plant produced annually. This meat may still be in distribution and in freezers waiting to be consumed as it was never subject to a recall.
    Also they used a CAT as one form of pest control in its warehouse, and CAT FECAL MATTER was also found in the meat production area. These meat products were shipped across the United States to elementary schools, national supermarket chains and hospitals nationwide. The Centers For Disease Control “CDC” has recently released reports stating that RODENT FECAL MATTER/URINE can cause up to six diseases in humans. CAT FECAL MATTER contains a parasite that causes serious birth defects.
    We invite you to check out our blog at and see the evidence for yourself, with shocking pictures of the contamination of these meat products. Also posted are letters from government officials covering this issue? We invite you to read all the information, draw your own conclusions and post your comments. If this moves you gross negligence, please tell a friend and/or loved one about our mission.
    Thank You,
    Larry M. Stone