Call it travel nightmare déjà vu.
It’s been a little more than year since the Costa Concordia partially sank off Giglio Island killing 32 cruisers and now the cruise industry is dealing with another PR nightmare as passengers of Carnival’s Triumph finally made it to land after being stranded at sea.
With two major incidents in recent memory, the cruise industry has been busy working on its image, but cruisers are still flocking to the waters.
More than 4,000 passengers left the disabled Carnival Triumph after it finally docked in Mobile, Ala., after spending five days without power on the vessel due to a mechanical failure. The passengers left the boat singing, waving towels in the air and even kissing the ground.
Carnival is reimbursing the passengers for the cost of the cruise as well $500in compensation and credit towards another cruise. In addition, the cruise line covered the passengers’ flights home and hotel stays upon docking.
Despite two cruise incidents within the past year, Vacation.com President John Lovell says events of this kind are extremely rare in the industry. He adds that 21 million travelers take cruises yearly without issues and consumers also rate cruising extremely high as the type of vacations they want to take.
He admitted Carnival’s issues is bad timing for the entire industry since now is the prime time for cruise booking, but says he hasn’t seen an immediate impact thus far.
“We are in the peak of selling season until mid-April. We were in contact with the larger [cruise and travel] agencies and had not seen any impact in terms of consumer demand, so the interest is still there. There’s been no drop in prices either.”
Its’ too soon to tell if Carnival will be forced to lower its prices, but Lovell says it’s not likely since the company has handled the situation well.
“Carnival reacted very quickly and made it known they would compensate passengers on board,” he says. “I feel it’s a good offer at this point, because each of these incidents are unique unto themselves. Everyone was in the same situation, as unfortunate as it was.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating last year’s Costa Concordia disaster to determine if new regulations or standards for the industry need to be implement, and Lovell expects the same investigation into Carnival’s failure.
“They will use it as a learning experience about what to do if your ship has a mechanical failure,” he says.