Carnival Fun Ship Disasters - Lessons LearnedI have written around 1,500 articles about the cruise industry on this blog.

I’ve covered the issues which are important to me, like the negative environmental impact caused by cruise ships which dump raw sewage into the water and belch toxic high-sulfur smoke into the air. Like the exploitation of vulnerable citizens of India and the Caribbean islands who work over over 360 hours to earn less than $600 a month. Like the fact that cruise lines avoid all U.S. federal taxes, U.S. wage and labor laws, and U.S. safety regulations by incorporating their companies and registering their ships overseas in countries like Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas.       

But do Americans really care about these issues?

An article the other day from the Plain Dealer struck a strange chord with me.  The article was entitled Cruise Industry’s Recent Troubles Could Mean Bargains on the Horizon. The newspaper writes that although the cruise industry is floundering again with images of stranded ships with over-flowing toilets (Image above courtesy Adweek), cruise lines will "fight back by throwing money at the image problem, lowering their prices until customers start buying again."

The newspaper’s bottom line is that the recent spate of pseudo disasters may be a good thing for consumers – "this may be the time to find a bargain."

Americans love bargains.  They want affordable and fun vacations. That’s what Carnival offers.

Americans don’t want to think about 400,000,000 people in India living below the poverty line many of whom are easily exploitable on cruise ships. Or the burning of toxic bunker fuel. Or the fouling of the waters in Alaska with a billion gallons of cruise ship waste water. Or the cruise line’s non-payment of U.S. taxes.

Americans want to enjoy a cheap vacation on a "fun ship."  The cruise lines provide that.  If fair treatment of Indian crew members, clean air and water, and the payment of taxes by the cruise lines will make cruising more expensive, most cruisers will choose the cheaper cruise.

Today I saw a tweet by the IrixGuy on Twitter. Seems like a nice fellow.  His YouTube video (below) explains why you should continue to cruise on Carnival.  His basic points:

1. Carnival is "great;" 

2. Carnival cruises have the "best prices;" and

3. With all of the "disasters" and negative press, it’s a "really good time to get a really good deal."

I suppose that’s basically what most cruisers want, right?

  • Bonnie

    Thank you for all the information you provide, and thank you especially for this post, Mr. Walker. Although I have never taken a cruise (and don’t plan to support the cruise industry), I am fascinated and horrified by the environmental and labor atrocities committed by this industry. This attitude of “bargain-hunting” at any cost extends beyond the cruise industry, but is least excusable for such a leisure activity. A “bargain cruise”, in my opinion, would be one where the crew (especially those from the most vulnerable populations), environment, and US Coast Guard didn’t “subsidize” the ticket price. I wish more people (but especially my fellow Americans) would take a moment to calculate the true cost of these bargains, if only as proof that justice and liberty do stand as tenets of our society.

  • Jonathan

    This is a great point Mr. Walker, and unfortunately I agree with your statement. Most people in the US don’t care about these issues and are bargain shoppers. I always tell people, a cheap vacation can be an expensive mistake. Education is the answer to change and you provide that with your blog and social media. Keep fighting the good fight. I’m sure that all the CEO’s of the cruise companies know your name. I will say that I don’t always agree with everything that you say, but I believe that you are fair and accurate. Knowledge is power and you offer power to the travel consumer.

  • monique perkins

    You have a very valid point Mr. Walker. Carnival’s way of solving their problems is reducing fares. I was going on a Carnival cruise in July but cancelled back in November 2012. Now my friends (those who are still going) just informed me Carnival reduce the fare $300. You will not find “stupid” written across my forehead. I’m not getting on anymore Carnival ships. Like you said Americans want cheap vacations at the suffering of others.

  • Vanessa White

    Just wanted to post a couple of comments; please correct me if I am wrong. I do understand that cruise employees (of most of the major mass lines) work for a basic monthly salary, perhaps $600, but they also get tips on top of that salary. Six hundred per month is not ALL they get. Plus, they get room and board as well. In addition, while they do work long and hard hours, the simple fact is that these people live in countries where, were it not for the cruise lines employing them, would be living in poverty conditions. Working for the cruise lines allows them to provide for their family in a way that simply staying at home would not do. Lastly, given how long cruise lines have been in business, I am quite sure that the “long, hard hours” are not a secret. The people working for any cruise line are there voluntarily, knowingly, and likely very willingly, given the alternative in their native country.

    Reading your blog, sir, you seem to have some vendetta against Carnival, which is certainly your right, this is a free country after all. I believe it is important to note that all the mass lines employ people from third world countries and in so doing, are helping those employees help their families in what otherwise might be dismal conditions for them.

    While I am not a maritime lawyer and confess I know nothing about who pays what taxes, I have to believe that all the mass lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL) operate the same way, that is, avoiding taxes and looking for any loophole they can find in the system. They all employee people from third world countries, if for no other reason than employable people in the US and most first world countries would not (nor do they need to) work those hours or those conditions for that pay. All the mass lines have the same “good luck suing us if anything happens” cruise contract (yes, I have sailed all 3 and have read the contract for each).

    In fairness and so it doesn’t appear you have a bias against Carnival, I would love to see you post the tax bills that have gone unpaid (legally) by RCI and NCL, as I am sure they are quite similar. In addition, I would love to see you post often about the net worth of RCI and NCL’s owners. I’m sure it’s got to be in the billions with a B for all of them.

    To end, I will say that I love cruising. I have been on over 45 of them since 1984. I am a stock holder in all 3 major lines so I truly have no bias of one to the other. I enjoy your blog, but wonder what your apparent bias is with Carnival.


  • Vanessa:

    Non-tip earning crew members (like cleaners) earn around $550 to $600 a month total working 12 hours plus a day, seven days a week all month long.

    Tip earners (like waiters) earn $50 a month in salary paid for by the cruise lines and then depend on passenger tips.

    Yes other cruise lines exploit their workers too. I have written many articles about that and the salaries and bonuses collected by the CEO’s of other cruise lines.

    Jim Walker

  • marilyn pardo

    I have sailed-on other than Carnival.I love traveling in general,train,,motorhome-done it all….My son and his bride to be are now.this moment,on a Carnival cruise…to the Carribean.I hope they love every moment,and all will be well.A cruise is a great place to have worry free travel=no maps,no gasups,no terrorists,great food,and you can see I see the world with rose colored glasses…..Life is what you make of it…and everybody,on a cruise,please tip generously!!!!! We all know the pay is lousy-and the staffs are great usually!!! sooooo…be generous..

  • tiny

    you know why Americans don’t care about India’s starving kids?
    it’s because those people do it to themselves they think it’s important to have 10 kids well then don’t bitch about starving. we get vacations Bc we control our numbers .