In what seems like a vote of no confidence for Carnival Cruise Line's current president Gerry Cahill, Carnival Corporation has invited former Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson back as a "special consultant" to Carnival Cruise Line as well as Carnival Corporation's other brands including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Seabourn.
Seatrade Insider broke the story this evening with a positive spin, quoting Dickinson: ". . . we offer really terrific vacations and strong satisfaction at a very high value, and we’ve gotten away from that. We’re a vacation industry. We need to get back to our core values and be much more dynamic."
Dickinson was an integral part of Carnival Cruise Lines back in the 1970's to 2007 when he retired.
When new president Cahill appeared at the next SeaTrade Convention in 2008, he brought a stick mask of Dickinson with him as a joke. But the joke seems to be on Cahill now with Dickinson re-appearing after the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph ship fires occurred on Cahill's watch.
Travel agents and cruise old timers may remember Dickinson fondly from the "good old days." But critics of the cruise line will remember him at the helm of Carnival Cruise Line in the "bad old days" when Carnival engaged in widespread and systematic dumping of waste everywhere, and when sexual assaults, shipboard crime and cover-ups on Carnival ships were at an all time high.
Dickinson is a relic of the 80's and 90's. He wrote a book long ago about cruising, "Selling the Sea," where he praised the role of the Captain of Carnival cruise ships, always on the sexual prowl:
" . . . we have observed that some captains, because of their social and sexual prowess, have contributed meaningfully to the revenue occupancy of the vessel. Clearly, there are passengers who are drawn to the Captain's insignia and crisp white uniform. Imagine being entertained in the Captain's quarters (often a two or three room spacious suite with leather sofas, a library, and a stereo) with a polite wait staff pouring Dom Perignon and serving Beluga caviar!"
Dickinson is perhaps best remembered when he appeared at the SeaTrade Convention in 2006 following the disappearance of George Smith during his cruise honeymoon under disturbing circumstances.
He characterized Mr. Smith's disappearance from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as an overblown "non event" before the SeaTrade audience. He was photographed snickering with Royal Caribbean's president, Adam Goldstein, at the convention. He received praise from the cruise fan faithfuls but received scorn from the public.
Dickinson is emblematic of the cruise industry's arrogance.
What a step backwards for Carnival, and the cruise industry as a whole, to bring this dinosaur out of retirement to try and mentor this troubled cruise line back to favorable public opinion.
Photo Credit: Top - Southern Cruising