What Does the USA Have to Do with the Quantum of the Seas?

Quantum of the Seas There came a point during the inaugural festivities aboard the Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas last night when I couldn't help laughing.

The cruise line portrayed a gigantic (digital) American flag on the cruise ship's massive screens. The crowd of travel agents, cruise bloggers, quasi-celebrities and Bon Jovi tribute band went wild.

The Royal Caribbean PR feed began releasing carefully posed photo-shopped images of the Quantum sailing next to the Statute of Liberty. The frenzied cruise fans and make-believe journalists began posting comments on Twitter like "iconic," epic" and "goosebumps."

Then one of my "Twitter friends" tweeted #USA #cruise and posted a photograph of old glory. 

What on earth does the USA have to do with the Quantum?

The ship was built in Germany. Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia (think civil wars & Ebola) to avoid U.S. taxes. The Liberian corporation registered the ship in Bahamas (think corruption and crime) to avoid U.S. safety laws and labor regulations. After a few months, the ship will be home-ported in Shanghai, China (try not to think of human rights violations). The crew members are over 95% from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Eastern Europe and South and Central American.  

About the only connection to the USA is that's where the cruise CEO's live in their waterfront Miami mansions. 

Quantum of the Seas Statute of Liberty

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Don't forget to read: Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship.

 

Photo credit: Twitter and Royal Caribbean

A Week the Cruise Industry Would Like to Forget

This week has been a public relations disaster for the cruise lines and the travel industry.

A Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member from the Norwegian Pearl was gunned down in Roatan after he walked off the ship to call his wife and check on his child back in the Philippines (suspect photo below right). A Disney crew member sexually molested a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream.  A visitor from Canada was murdered and his family terrorized in the Bahamas. A MSC cruise ship, the Magnifica, was raided by the police and labor officials in Brazil for human rights violations. Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships infected hundreds and hundreds of guests with norovirus aboard the Grandeur of the Seas and the Crown Princess

You can read about the stories here.

A month ago I attended the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) and listened to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan Roatan Murder Suspect Cruisesay: "we are ruled by public opinion; unless we can keep our business running right we will always be on defensive." The NCL boss added: "a period of operational excellence and no media incidents are needed."

A month ago I wrote that the continuous stories about mistreatment of crew members, sexual assaults, and children victimization will continue to damage the cruise industry's image. Its like reputation death by a thousand cuts. I heard no PR plan by the cruise lines at CSM to turn things around.  I said at the time that the cruise lines were just "hanging in the balance hoping for the best."

Well the best didn't come and cruise executive Sheehan didn't get his prayer answered for "no media incidents."

This week Sheehan pulled his cruise ships out of Roatan after one of his crew members was murdered last Sunday, but the move is just temporary. His ships will again start calling on Roatan at some point. But the danger is still there. Many cruise passengers, from Carnival and Royal Caribbean, as well as other tourists, have been robbed at gunpoint or machete point in Roatan earlier this year.

Crime in Roatan will not magically stop.  Other cruise tourists will undoubtedly be robbed. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world not to mention dysfunctional police and legal systems. Where do the cruise line go instead? Belize? The Bahamas? Their crime and murder rates are also some of the worst in the world.

Roatan, Belize, and the Bahamas are all beautiful but they are all dangerous places to visit. What families want to save up all year and go on a Caribbean vacation to get away from the stresses of their lives just to end up in some of the most dangerous countries in the world?

A new Harris Poll revealed that the cruise industry's image is sinking. The poll says that the U.S. public questions the safety and reliability of cruising. The poll cited the numerous norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships as one reason for the lack of confidence in the cruise industry. The poll was taken before the Roatan shooting or the Disney child molestation case this week.

Bedfellows CLIA & NTSB Team Up for Cozy Meeting on Cruise Ship Safety

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is beginning a two-day meeting today in Washington D.C. regarding the topic of passenger safety aboard cruise ships. The meeting was requested and largely organized by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), the trade group for the cruise lines, to showcase the cruise industry.

Participating in the meeting will be NTSB members, CLIA representatives, cruise line employees, Coast Guard officials, and delegates from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO is an United Nations entity which makes safety recommendations for cruise ships but is powerless to enforce the recommendations or discipline or punish cruise lines which ignore the recommendations.

The NTSB refused to invite the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization to Washington D.C. and NTSB Meeting Cruise Ship Safetyrefuses to permit the ICV to participate in the meeting.  The ICV is a grass-roots, non-profit organization consisting of thousands of members who are dedicated to making cruising safer. Our firm has many former clients who are members of the ICV, including Lynnette Hudson, the daughter of Princess Cruises passenger Richard Liffridge from Georgia who perished in a fire aboard the Star Princess cruise ship.

The NTSB hearing is opening now with remarks from the Coast Guard about cruise ship accident investigations and fire protection. It is a shame that the NTSB and CLIA refuse to permit the ICV's involvement in the meeting given the first hand experience of the ICV members in dealing with dangers aboard cruise ships.  Ms. Hudson previously inspected the cruise ship which killed her father to make certain that it finally had a fire detection and suppression system installed. She testified before the United States House of Representatives regarding the cruise ship fire which killed her father. You can read about that fire and Ms. Hudson's recommendations to prevent similar fatalities here: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Other ICV members were aboard the Costa Concordia when it crashed into the rocks and killed 32 souls. 

When I realized that the NTSB was excluding the ICV, I send emails to the NTSB spokesperson, Eric Weiss, requesting an explanation why only CLIA members and cruise line employees were welcome. Mr. Weiss ignored my emails. But he recently spoke to a Miami Herald reporter stating that: “Security and crime is not in our jurisdiction. This is about cruise ship safety, not security.” 

The ICV has many members personally affected by the absence of safety systems and protocols on cruise ships. The ICV has participated in five Congressional hearings addressing safety issues such as engine failures and fires. It appears that CLIA and the NTSB are systematically excluding any organization with victims who have personal experiences regarding cruise ship dangers while inviting only employees and friends of the cruise lines who wish to shield the industry from criticism. 

I realize that the cruise lines are desperate for favorable press after the debacle of the Carnival Splendor and the Carnival Triumph, with both cruise ships igniting shortly after Coast Guard inspections, as well as the deadly disaster involving the Carnival-owned Costa Concordia. But excluding cruise victims and orchestrating a rigged meeting with dog and pony shows by CLIA and cruise line representatives is shameful. 

NTSB's relationship with the cruise industry has always been a mixed bag.

Years ago, the NTSB's chairman was Jim Hall, a man of personal integrity who never wavered from who his commitment to the safety of the traveling public.

Mr. Hall earned a reputation for objectivity and credibility when he was the NTBS's top dog from 1994 - 2001. He was involved in investigating serious accidents in both the aviation and cruise industries. He NTSB Cruise Safety Meetingvoiced his concerns that there would be continued problems in the maritime industry because there was no real oversight over the cruise lines. Consider the comments which Mr. Hall made to Newsweek last year:

"Jim Hall, head of the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration, says the industry is watched over by “paper tigers” like the International Maritime Organization and suffers from “bad actors” much like in the poorly regulated motor-coach industry, which saw its latest fatal bus crash in Southern California earlier this month. “The maritime industry is the oldest transportation industry around. We’re talking centuries. It’s a culture that has never been broken as the aviation industry was, and you see evidence of that culture in the [Costa Concordia] accident,” says Hall."

After Mr. Hall retired as chairman, the NTSB went in a different direction. From 2006 - 2008, Mark Rosenker served as the NTSB chairmen but he catered to the cruise industry. In 2007, CLIA's Board of Directors wined and dined Rosenker during the annual Sea Trade cruise convention (now called Cruise shipping Miami) here in Miami. He gave a nice speech to CLIA (you can read here) which he began by stating " I am very pleased that your safety record is excellent." This was a rather amazing and outrageous thing to say given the fact that just a year earlier, the Star Princess ignited off the coast of Jamaica and burned through 100 cabins and killed our client's father, Richard Liffridge, mentioned above. 

Rosenker even promised CLIA that he would help the cruise lines keep "sensitive" information about maritime accidents away from the public, telling CLIA "there are provisions in the law to keep certain voluntarily provided safety information confidential."

Rosenker and CLIA were a perfect match. Both were interested in suppressing damaging information about cruise mishaps from the public.

After Rosenker retired from the NTSB, CLIA paid him as a consultant for the cruise industry. His job largely appears to tell everyone who will listen that  "the industry has an outstanding safety record and the most dangerous part of the cruise is undoubtedly the drive to the port. It is very rare that people are injured on a cruise ship,” as he told the cruise industry publication World Cruise Industry Review in 2010.  

In 2012 and 2013 Rosenker continued his gushing praise of a cruise industry which puts money in his pocket, telling a travel agent publication that “it is important for consumers to understand that cruise vacations are extremely safe. This industry is highly regulated with tremendous oversight.” Rosenker told another cruise industry publication that “every aspect of the cruise industry is heavily monitored and regulated under US, EU and international law.”

Senator Rockefeller admonished Rosenker during his testimony last year when he repeated the cruise industry's talking points before a Senate hearing on cruise ship safety issues last year, because of his obvious bias for the cruise lines.

The cruise line routinely hires from the NTSB, FBI, Coast Guard, USPH and other federal agencies. NTSB Cruise Safety MeetingMany former federal officials seem to pander to the cruise lines while in public office. Former Coast Guard officials often quickly turn into paid cruise line consultants who are pleased to appear in cruise industry publications still wearing their Coast Guard uniform and medals standing in front of an official Coast Guard logo while attesting to their wonderful experiences cruising.

Of course, no current or past federal employee should engage in such hyperbolic cheer-leading like this. It is unprofessional and unseemly. It is a conflict of interest. But some federal officials seem motivated to angle for private sector jobs in the rich cruise industry which pays no federal income taxes and is overseen, if all all, by poor, flag of convenience nations like Panama and the Bahamas and the "paper tigers," mentioned by Mr. Hall, at the IMO.

So the NTSB-CLIA love-fest begins this morning. Where is the integrity of Jim Hall? Where are the victims of cruise ship fires and sinkings? Who is speaking for the dead and injured?  Have all of the federal agencies crawled in bed with the cruise lines? 

Royal PR #FAIL: Royal Caribbean Keeps Adventure & Navigator Passengers in the Dark

This weekend saw the epic failure of Royal Caribbean's corporate communications department after two of its cruise ships, the Adventure of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas, encountered difficulties returning to their respective ports. 

The Adventure of the Seas encountered propulsion problems last week and, eventually, a total failure on Saturday night, after the cruise ship's "fixipod" leaked oil and the ship lost propulsion. The ship limped back to San Juan on Sunday with great uncertainty whether it could possibly be repaired in time for it to sail. The ship is scheduled for a drydock at the end of the month, but it appears that Royal Caribbean decided to try and do a quick-fix of the damaged "fixipod" and squeeze in one more cruise to avoid having to refund their several thousands of passengers millions of dollars in refunds. Families Port of Galveston - Navigator of the Seas - Oil Spillwho had flown to San Juan to board the Adventure were not told of the propulsion issues and found themselves standing in a long line in the hot sun while the cruise line's public relations department said nothing. As of this morning (Monday), the ship has still not sailed.

While the Adventure of the Seas saga was unfolding, the Navigator of the Seas was delayed returning to port by an oil spill caused by a collision between a ship and a barge. Families who had driven and flown into Houston to make the cruise where not advised of the oil spill or the delay embarking the ship while the Royal Caribbean department remained quite. Meanwhile the Carnival PR department was routinely posting updates on Twitter and Facebook about the problem which its ship, the Magic, faced with the oil spill. Carnival maintained a centralized "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" on its website.  It timely notified its guests that the cruise aboard the Carnival Magic would be delayed until Monday and that they should locate a hotel and get a good night's sleep. 

By early Sunday afternoon, the Royal Caribbean passengers began openly complaining on Twitter and Facebook about the cruise line's refusal to keep them up to date. A public relations nightmare was unfolding.

Numerous passengers and family members began bitterly complaining that Royal Caribbean was not notifying them via email, test messaging or telephone, and the cruise line was not utilizing its Twitter or Facebook feeds. Royal Caribbean has a public relations account of Twitter, called @RoyalCaribPR, San Juan Long Lines Adventure of the Seasbut it had remained silent for the psst 48 hours. People calling the cruise line were placed on hold, or the service representatives didn't know what was going on. It was as if the entire customer relations department has outsourced to a distant village in India. 

The passengers in San Juan were congregating in long lines in the hot son without water or food (photo left, via @_DanielnPearson). There was reportedly a single restroom with long lines. People were suffering, particularly the elderly. One passenger sent me a photo of the long lines via Twitter. 

One passenger commented on Cruise Critic that Royal Caribbean "is refusing water and people are leaving in ambulances." Some passengers reportedly collapsed due to the heat and lack of water. And @It'sYourWorld tweeted a photo (photo below right) of a San Juan ambulance which arrived at the port to attend to one of the passenger trying to board the ship.  

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Facebook page said nothing about either the Adventure or the Navigator. While people began demanding an update on Twitter, Royal Caribbean posted a photograph of a beautiful tropical port of call (photo bottom left). At a time of crisis with customers begging for information, Royal Caribbean was clueless. It was trying to sell cruises with images of paradise when people in the sun needed water. 

As the afternoon dragged on into the evening and night, the passenger attempting to board these Royal Caribbean ships were kept in the dark. When Royal Caribbean finally began to tweet, its tweets were meaningless. One tweet it made over and over said: " We will provide more information . . . as information is available." 

Hundreds of passengers and the usual "Loyal-to-Royal" cruise fans began tweeting every few seconds. Of the hundreds of tweets, here are a few.

A cruise social media expert said: 'Hey @CCLSupport any way you can help out @RoyalCaribbean on their updates? They don't seem to be taking your lead :)"  He added another tweet: "@RoyalCaribbean's last tweet was promo for Ibiza & @RoyalCaribPR's last tweet was Friday. #FAIL"

A woman concerned for her elderly parents tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean when can incoming guests check luggage? Senior parents (one disabled) have been up since 4am. They are exhausted."

Another woman from Texas tweeted: "My mom received no email or call updates. Found all the update info on Twitter. Pathetic!"

A man from Ohio tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean why are your offices closed when you have 1000s of passengers waiting for information about boarding the Navigator of Seas?"

A cruise fan from Denver tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean I understand the oil spill is out of your control but do you know how to use technology to communicate with your passengers?"

He added: "@RoyalCaribbean = confusion."

A member of Cruise Critic left this comment:

" . . . I am appalled by the lack of communication. Problems happen, (like busted ships and oil spills) but this is a problem that they knew they would have today given that it started Wednesday. There absolutely should have been a corporate plan in place to communicate with extra staff at port (3 days to fly staff from MIA to SJ is plenty of time) even if the only thing they would be able to communicate was that they don't know anything yet. Despite what anyone thinks, in corporate America today if you are Ambulance Stressed and Exhausted Cruise Passengers - San Juannot ahead of the news cycle you are behind...tweets, FB etc are required, and certainly emails, phone calls, texts, to passengers sailing are required, not 'optional.'

If as reported, no water or accommodations for elderly and special needs passengers were made while waiting to board; that's another major failure given the huge amount of time the company had to prepare for what they knew would be a problem. A hotel ballroom and shuttle could have been arranged cheaply.

This is completely unacceptable and another huge black eye for the Royal and the cruise industry."

You can read the Cruise Critic comments here.

Throughout Sunday afternoon, we received emails and comments on our blog and Facebook page asking for basic information about these two Royal Caribbean cruises from passengers at the ports, travel agents and concerned family members at home. A cruise line has a major PR problem when guests and travel agents are ignored and have to seek information from a maritime lawyer rather than a cruise representative. We directed a number of people calling us to the Carnival updates about the Galveston situation and also sent the link to the webcam at the port of Galveston so that they could see when the Navigator finally arrived in port (photo top right).

It still remains uncertain whether the Adventure of the Seas will sail today. The Royal Caribbean PR Twitter feed @RoyalCaribPR remains silent. The Royal Caribbean main Twitter page @RoyalCaribbean has offered no updates for 14 hours. The page claims that it offers "inspiration and information from the official sponsor of WOW. Living the #cruiselife 24/7." Hardly.

The problem here is that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean try and squeeze their ships (and employees) to make every dime possible.  It could have decided to take its crippled Adventure of the Seas out of service a week early for dry-dock but instead loaded the new round of passengers aboard to avoid paying a hotel for the night or refunds for the missed cruise. 

This is not Royal Caribbean's first PR blunder in San Juan. In August 2011 as a hurricane headed to the island, Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas sailed 6 hours early. But Royal Caribbean did not contact its guests via the emergency contact information about the new itinerary.  It didn't provide the passengers, who arrived in San Juan to find that the ship had left, with hotel rooms. It abandoned its guests in the middle of a hurricane and didn't bother to tell them.

Super cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, expressed outrage in her blog Bad Royal Caribbean Fantasy VacationsWeather Blunder: A Lesson in Cruise Crisis Control? "This takes my breath away. And it’s not about the fact that it didn’t offer to pay for hotels and flights . . . . It’s about dropping the ball in a risky situation. Clearly, I’m not the only one who is shocked at Royal Caribbean’s lack of responsibility to its customers. On Cruise Critic’s forums, its blog, and its Facebook page, travelers are incredulous." 

One of the continuing criticisms of the cruise industry is that it may be skilled at marketing fantasy images of idyllic cruise vacations but it is not prepared when disaster strikes one of its increasingly gigantic cruise ships. It's clear that Royal Caribbean has not invested into the infrastructure of its crisis management department and developed policies and procedures to effectively communicate meaningful information in real time. If Royal Caribbean can't handle a weekend when two cruise ships are delayed, one for an oil slick and another for a known propulsion issue, do you think that it can communicate effectively when a fire strands either the Oasis or the Allure on the high seas in rough weather or, God forbid, a huge ship sinks at sea? 

Carnival's "Moments that Matter" Marketing Campaign is Offensive and the Timing Couldn't Be Worse

Last week the public was transfixed on the incredible spectacle of the "parbuckling" project which, at a cost of $800,000,000 and rising, finally but successfully righted the capsized Costa Concordia in the port of Giglio.  

The major news networks offered live streaming video of the event. Social media, especially Twitter, provided non-stop, second-by-second updates of the stricken Carnival-owned Concordia emerging from its watery grave.   

Although there was some excitement that the Concordia didn't break-apart and topple into the sea, the expressions of success were muted by the fact that the Carnival ship was still a crime scene relevant to Concordia Cruise Missingthe criminal proceeding against disgraced Captain Schettino, as well being the tomb of passenger Maria Trecarichi, and Costa crew member, Russel Rebello (photo left), whose bodies have not yet been recovered. The images of the salvaged cruise ship showed what appeared to be a stained, stinking, and grotesquely warped ship still partially submerged in the water.

A sad sight.  

The following day, incredibly, Carnival launched a new marketing campaign, called "Moments that Matter." The television advertising depicts U.S. families walking by picture frames showing wonderful moments on a Carnival cruise ship. (You can watch the video below.)  A voice says:

“We never forget the moments that matter. We hang them on our walls. We share them with everyone. And hold onto them forever.”  

For a second, I thought that perhaps this was going to be a tribute to the 32 dead passengers and crew from the Concordia. But it had nothing to do with the Concordia disaster. In fact, the advertising was intentionally designed to try and take the public's mind away from the Concordia and everything which has gone wrong with Carnival, and that's saying a lot, over the last several years.      

I thought to myself how inappropriate the ad was. Certainly the timing was terrible. The Concordia with dead people aboard is being raised and Carnival is hawking cruises with a sentimental ad like this? The smiling U.S. citizens in the video certainly don't look like the dead people and missing people from the cruise ship. If you think of cruise ships sinking, capsizing, and catching on fire, aren't the "moments that matter" getting off of Carnival Moments that Matter - Cruise Disasterthe ship alive?

The image which comes to me instantly is a photo (right) of two young women surviving the Triumph debacle and cheering in their robes when they were finally ashore in Mobile.  

And what exactly is a "moment that matters?" I think I know. But it's certainly not frolicking around foolishly on a bargain-basement-fare Carnival cruise ship which flies a flag of convenience, underpays it's non-U.S. crew, and avoids virtually all U.S. taxes.  

The timing of the newly trotted-out ad was terrible, at a minimal. And at the worst, the ad was insensitive, manipulative and offensive.

I'm not the only one disturbed by Carnival's efforts to sell cheap cruises by trying to take us away from the images of the deadly Corcordia, and the Carnival Triumph poop cruise, and the disabled Carnival Splendor with a U.S. aircraft carrier dropping provisions from navy helicopters to the rattled guests on the ship below. 

The New York Times published an article about the new Carnival marketing scheme. The newspaper interviewed travel and marketing experts who were highly critical of the ad campaign. The Times published:

John Greening, a professor of branding and marketing communications at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said the campaign was premature. Carnival “needs to let more time go by. It’s too soon to be promoting itself. They might do more P.R. efforts than advertising,” he said.

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who does research in trust recovery, said the campaign was lacking “evidence of any new procedures and processes that make Carnival a more effective, safe and competent operator.”

Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Hudson Crossing, called the TV spot “trite and lacking in authenticity and credibility.”

"It’s almost as if Carnival is hoping that by watching its commercial filled with” smiling people, 'consumers’ memories will be magically erased of any memories regarding the series of unfortunate events that the line recently experienced,' he said. 

Reputation Ravaged Carnival Hires New Marketing Firm

Beleaguered Carnival Cruise Line, which in just a few months turned itself into the "poop cruise line," has hired a new marketing firm to turn its image around.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports that Carnival Cruise Lines has named the Lacek Group (TLG) as its new customer marketing agency. 

The Journal explains that the Lacek Group (TLG) is a Minneapolis-based agency known for its expertise in "loyalty marketing" and "customer retention." It will provide Carnival with "strategic services and the development and management of customer communications and engagement initiatives."

Carnival Cruise Line MarketingRob Borden, Carnival Cruise Lines' vice president of customer marketing, said in a statement. “TLG brings significant expertise utilizing state-of-the-art tools to identify insights from customer data and to find creative and compelling ways to engage guests through print and digital media. They are the ideal partner to help us take our customer communications and engagement to the next level."

That sounds like a lot of marketing mumbo gumbo to me.  Carnival has a major image problem. It seems that cruise lines today are seeking new outside experts to help them with their tattered images.

Engine room fires, disabled cruises, no air conditioning, and toilets that don't work require some seriously talented public relations and advertising professionals.

Carnival Corporation subsidiary Princess Cruises just hired a new advertising agency to help rehabilitate ts image.

Will the Lacek Group turn Carnival back into "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line?"

I wonder why Carnival Cruise Line, based here in Miami, could not locate local talent from Miami to help with improving its marketing efforts?  

 

Photo Credit:  CollegeHumor.com

Trending Now: Carnival Cruise Line's Reputation Circles the Drain

One of the interesting things about social media is that there are numerous services which track "what's tending now." Certain applications can also track words or phrases which are dominating the news.

I like to use TweetDeck as well as Monitter to follow trends involving the cruise industry.

"Carnival cruise" has been trending all week at a frantic pace. And the news is not good.

Carnival Cruise ship NightmareThe cumulative effect of the recent cruise ship fires, power failures and images of passengers on disabled cruise ships complaining about toilets over-flowing has turned Carnival's reputation into a joke.

Carnival's "fun ships" have been ridiculed on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman & Jay Leno, and featured in MAD Magazine (see below). 

Consider some of the comments which are twirling on Twitter right now:

Packing for my Carnival cruise: tent, sleeping bag for deck, iodine pills, generator, Cipro.

We all lose if CBS doesn't film the next Survivor aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship

Maybe we should shut down Abu Ghraib prison and send the terrorists on a Carnival Cruise

I wouldn't go on a Carnival cruise right now even if it were free

One of the secrets to Carnival Cruise’s unsinkable business model: free Coast Guard rescues

They have so many cruise commercials because Carnival is just sinking

Even with the 50% discount from Carnival it will be difficult to go on that cruise line again

Carnival cruise boats are shit LOL dont know why ppl go on them...

Decisions. Decisions. Trying to decide whether to take a Carnival Cruise or just stay at home and shit my pants

My new punishment for my 12 year old daughter: Do your chores or I'll send you on a Carnival Cruise

if its a carnival, there's a 96.13% chance something will go wrong and youll get a free cruise out of it... Have fun!

Last week I posed a question on Twitter whether Carnival was the Wal-Mart of the high seas? Several people said no way - don't insult Wal-Mart, Carnival is more like K-Mart.

What's the funniest comment about Carnival you have heard on Twitter this week? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MAD Magazine - Carnival Cruise Ship

Is Cruise Line Public Relations the Hardest Job Around?

I have always wondered how the cruise industry PR people do it.  

They face non-stop bad cruise news. The Splendor fire. The Concordia deaths. The Allegra fire.  The Triumph fire.  Plus another 10 cruise ship fires, 50 norovirus outbreaks and more shipboard rapes than you can count in just 3 years.

Yet, the cruise line public relations employees put their happy faces on and pull out their talking points. Cruise ship fires, crimes, deaths and disappearances are "rare" they say. Cruising is "absolutely" safe they promise. The safety of passenger is the cruise industry's highest priority, they proclaim. 

Cruise Lines PRBut fewer and fewer people seem to believe the cruise lines shtick. 

The usually friendly-to-the-cruise-lines reporters at the Miami Herald are even writing some articles that suggest that cruising may be suffering an image problem.

The Herald just published "Americans Think Less of Cruising after Carnival Triumph Fire, Poll Says."  A Harris Poll of 2,230 adults showed that "trust" and "perceived quality" of Carnival and other cruise lines dropped "significantly."

According to the poll, 58 percent of people who have never taken a cruise say they are less likely to try one now than they were a year ago. 

On the same day the poll was released, Forbes announced that Carnival CEO Micky Arison's fortunes increased one billion dollars last year, from $4.7 billion to $5.7 billion.

With all of Carnival's deferred maintenance of its cruise ships, exploitation of its crew members, refusal to reimburse the U.S. federal government for Coast Guard expenses in responding to disabled ships, and avoidance of U.S. corporate taxes by registering itself in Panama, how do the cruise PR representatives spin the news today of cruise tycoon Arison's enormous wealth?

 

Image Credit:  A Bruising For Cruising  (NetBase)

What Happened to the Nation of Why Not?

This weekend I clicked on Royal Caribbean's website to read the cruise line president's "Why Not?" blog which is on the cruise line website called the "Nation of Why Not." 

Royal Caribbean's Nation of Why Not?Believe it or not, I like reading what cruise line CEO's write about.   It's interesting to me to see the disconnect between the usually mundane things the cruise executives promote compared to missing passengers, shipboard crimes and norovirus outbreaks which the executives don't want you to know about.

You may recall that back in 2008 Royal Caribbean abandoned its high energy and highly successful Get Out There! marketing campaign, which featured videos of passengers hiking on a glacier, dog sledding and kayaking, while a upbeat tune with a heavy base blared out the refrain of Iggy Pop's Lust for Life!  Quite frankly, I would sometimes find myself humming that damn song after a Royal Caribbean ad would come on the TV.

For reasons not clear to me, Royal Caribbean discarded the brilliant Get Out There! theme.  Instead of the dynamic images of active cruise vacationers, Royal Caribbean introduced a new marketing campaign called the "Nation of Why Not."

I thought that the cruise line had lost its mind.  It replaced the high octane energy of its Get Out There! campaign with odd images of the whimsical and lackadaisical Nation of Why Not.   Was the cruise line trying to compete with Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman's What Me Worry motto?  Why walk away from the positive energy of Get Out There! and replace it with the ambivalent if not negative karma of a marketing slogan with the word NOT in it?

I clicked on the Nation of Why Not link on the bottom right corner of the Royal Caribbean home page to read the president's Why Not? blog.  But instead of entering the Why Not nationI was directed instead to a page named "Answer It Royally."

Where did the Nation of Why Not go?  The cruise president's Why Not? blog also disappeared, replaced with a blog called Sea Views.

Royal Caribbean - Nation of Why Not?What's going on?  Did the cruise line abandon its marketing concept?  Did Royal Caribbean tell the citizens of Why Not that their nation no longer existed?

So I looked around on the internet.  But I couldn't find anything.  The cruise president's last article on the new Sea Views blog was about how important it is to blog as a CEO and, ironically enough, the need to maintain brand loyalty.  It was strange to read someone talking about the concept of brand loyalty instead of actually practicing it. 

How about an explanation regarding whether the Why Not? mantra is being replaced with "Answer it Royally?"  And what does "Answer it Royally" mean anyway? 

The only information I could find about what appears to be a new marketing theme is that Royal Caribbean trademarked the phrase "The Sea is Calling.  Answer it Royally."  OK, now I get it.  Cute, I suppose.  

Royal Caribbean just filed its application for the new service mark on September 13th.  Perhaps there will be some type of announcement from the marketing and web agency people in the future about all of this?

The Sea Is Calling - Answer It Royally - Royal CaribbeanLoyal-to-Royal cruise fans, did I miss something in the last couple of months?  Do you know what happened to the Nation of Why Not?  What do you think about the Answer it Royally theme?

I say bring back the Get Out There! videos and turn Iggy Pop's Lust for Life on full blast.

 

December 12, 2011 Update:  A reader brought to my attention that Royal Caribbean's new ad  debuted in October in Spanish ("El Mar Te Llama").  You can watch it here.  

Another reader pointed out that if you type in "the sea is calling" dot com, you go to a Royal Caribbean's facebook page which has the new video.

Cruisemates published an article today discussing the cruise line's new national ad campaign which you can read here.   Royal Caribbean invited some members of the media to a conference call this morning and introduced the new ad.