A handful of recent stories have shed light unwanted light on the image-conscious cruise industry. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to paint pictures of care free vacations. But here are some stories published in the last few days which make you realize that the fun-filled family cruise may a bit different than advertised.
Wedding Disaster on Carnival's Sensation - WKMG, a local television station from Orlando, reports on the disastrous wedding of a young couple on Carnival's Sensation cruise ship. Initially delayed by a bomb scare, the wedding party was promised that the ceremony would go forward as planned. But after arriving three hours late to the cruise ship, they find other passengers wandering into their pre-wedding buffet. The ship's Captain then wanted them off the ship in thirty minutes. So they quickly exchanged vows and headed to the reception buffet, which was interrupted by a muster station drill where other passengers arrived wearing life jackets and helped themselves to the buffet. When the bride wanted to call Carnival's headquarters, the ship told her a per minute telephone charge would apply. Watch the video, its a disaster.
The Death of Carnival Cruise Passenger Carol Olson - The Baltimore Sun covered the tragic death of a cruise passenger during a snorkeling excursion sold by Carnival which by all accounts was haphazard and disorganized. Reporter Frank Roylance's wrote a blockbuster article entitled "Pleasure Cruises Bring Risks, Too - Families Say Tragedies Expose Cruise Lines' Limited Liability." He touches upon an issue which the cruise lines like to keep secret - namely that cruise lines have insulated themselves from liability when the negligence of "independent contractors" like excursion companies and ship doctors ends up killing passengers. Roylance discusses cruise fires, drownings, disappearances, and crime.
Date Rape Drugs on Princess Cruises - The International Cruise Victims website just published a story "Cruise From Hell" where parents recount the terror of their daughter who goes to a teen center on Princess Cruises' Grand Princess only to end up missing. According to the article, the daughter is eventually found semi-conscious by a stairwell. The family reports that they endured the indignity of a security guard telling their daughter "where have you been, you little slut?" Although the ship initially confirmed the involvement of a date rape drug, the cruise line later wrote the family a letter, saying that nothing happened. Princess denied that any of the surveillance tapes showed anything - a tale we have heard before.
Royal Caribbean No Help To Passengers From the Tar Heel State - In a story we touched upon yesterday, ABC affiliate WTVD News11 in North Carolina aired a story yesterday about a number of families who traveled to Miami only to find that Royal Caribbean's policies regarding the use of birth certificates as identification were inconsistent and confusing. The cruise line refused to permit passengers to board who had their original certificates from the hospitals where they were born, but let others aboard who had facsimile copies from the clerk's office. The $15,000,000,000 corporation would not let any of the frantic passengers use their machines at the port. Many frustrated customers spent $1,5000 each for a family vacation, only to be turned away from the ship. Watch the video.
Carnival Terrorizes Passengers, Then Calls Their Stories "Ridiculous" - Two weeks ago, the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship was sailing across the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico when it suddenly and unexpectedly made a 90 degree turn which emptied the pool, ripped tables bolted to the deck loose, injured 60 passengers, and terrorized hundreds more. Carnival claimed that the ship turned to port and listed around 12 degrees to avoid what Carnival called a "loose" buoy. 40 passengers left comments on our blog, stating that the ship actually turned to starboard, listed as much as 30 degrees, and may have been trying to avoid a fixed buoy marking small islands later documented on a maritime chart. Carnival's PR spokesperson mocked the passengers, called their claims "ridiculous," and refused to apologize.
The cruise industry's dubious reputation has never recovered after the Department of Justice caught Carnival and Royal Caribbean engaging in wide spread dumping, falsification of log books, and lying and fined them a total of $45,000,000 ten years ago.
Stories like these suggest that cruise lines still have a hard time telling the truth or treating their customers fairly and squarely. And the cruise industry wonders why it has an image problem . . .
Like this article? Then we suggest reading:
Or read a puff piece by a traveler writer regarding the cruise industry's reputation: Bad Rap: Why the News Media's Cruise Reporting Goes Negative
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Cruise ship and waiters Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Injured Carnival Ecstasy passenger Brandy and Ashley Vickery (via ABC13 "Sixty Passengers Hurt on Galveston-Based Cruise Ship")