The bizarre story of the overboard Royal Caribbean passenger being rescued by the Disney Magic near Cozumel is still trending.
Everyone who's cruised or is thinking of cruising has by now read at least one story about the 22 year-old passenger who fell off of the Oasis of the Seas and then was magically rescued by a Disney ship almost 5 hours later.
The story was first published by a newspaper in Mexico and then translated and published here on Cruise Law News on January 9th. Dozens of publications and news networks have since covered the story.
Today the Wall Street Journal's Risk & Compliance Report published an article entitled Crisis of the Week: Royal Caribbean Goes Overboard by Ben DiPierto.
As DiPietro points out, it's bad enough that the cruise line lost another person overboard without even knowing it (a result I say of not investing in automatic man overboard technology required by the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act) but the Royal Caribbean passenger was rescued by competing cruise line Disney (which has installed the latest in MOB technology). We have reported on dozens of passengers and crew members who have disappeared on Royal Caribbean ships before, including the Oasis of the Seas, but Royal Caribbean seems more interested in filling its new so-called "smart" ships with gadgets to "wow" the passengers (like the simulated balconies, bumper cars, FlowRiders, rock walls and the North Star capsule) rather than investing in lifesaving personnel and technology.
The man-overboard story represents the continuation of recent bad news for Royal Caribbean. The cruise line is still reeling from the recent horror story of a near drowning of a 4 year-old child in a life-guard-less pool on Oasis of the Seas on January 3rd. Disney not only has MOB lifesaving technology, but it is one of the few cruise lines with fully staffed lifeguards. Given it's refusal to staff its ships with lifeguards or implement MOB technology, Royal Caribbean is definitely 2 big steps behind Disney in safety.
Plus, Royal Caribbean just weathered a highly publicized sexual assault of a woman in her cabin by a mini-bar attendant with unsupervised access to a master key on the Quantum of the Seas on December 29th. Women being assaulted by cabin attendants entering cabins via master keys has been a problem on Royal Caribbean ship for decades.
Royal Caribbean appears clueless in handling the MOB public relations fall-out. The crisis management experts cited in DiPietro's article criticize the cruise line for lacking empathy and transparency in its response to this story which has rocketed across Facebook, Twitter, cable new and television. One expert in the Wall Street Journal article says “the company is lacking serious crisis management communications."
There is no doubt about that. But if the cruise line would install MOB devices, hire lifeguards and restrict cabin key-cards, Royal Caribbean wouldn't need to hire new PR people.
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Photo Credit: DailyMail