The last thing Carnival Cruise Line needed was another
story about human waste.
Too bad that’s exactly what news outlets are reporting today, as Carnival Dream, a cruise ship docked at St. Maarten, suffered technical problems on Wednesday, resulting in “periodic interruptions to bathroom services” and, according to a passenger interviewed by CNN
, overflowing toilets.
"There's human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they're overflowing—and in the state rooms,” the passenger told CNN.
The splashy Fox News headline says, “Another Carnival nightmare
That’s not good for a cruise company that last month experienced a PR crisis when its crippled Triumph ship
was towed into port after several days at sea without power. The big story was about the horrid conditions, namely overflowing toilets.
This time, the company wants to make something perfectly clear: Only one bathroom on Dream overflowed—a point it made in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon.
Carnival’s social media team snaps into action
The CNN story on Carnival Dream’s problems ran Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, the story was ricocheting across the Web.
The Carnival PR team, which was criticized
for failing to respond sooner to last month’s Triumph incident, posted an initial statement
to its Facebook page on Thursday around 7:30 a.m., and started tweeting updates
about the ship around the same time. At 11:45 a.m. ET, the company posted a much longer Facebook message
in which it apologized to passengers:
“We are very sorry for this disruption to our guests' vacation plans and extend our sincere apologies. We look forward to welcoming them back on another Carnival cruise.”
According to the statement, the ship was making a scheduled port of call in St. Maarten when a backup emergency diesel generator malfunctioned. The company insisted the ship never lost power.
“All guests are safe and comfortable,” the statement said. “There were periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours last night. However, all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12.30 a.m.”
Perhaps Carnival execs didn’t like the smell of that post, because the company posted a short follow-up message, insisting only one toilet was broken.
Here’s the entire statement:
“We know there have been questions on the conditions onboard Carnival Dream last night and wanted to update you. We have had multiple conversations with the ship’s management team. Based on the ship’s service logs and extensive physical monitoring of all public areas, including restrooms, throughout the night, we can confirm that only one public restroom was taken offline for cleaning based on toilet overflow and there was a total of one request for cleaning of a guest cabin bathroom. Aside from that there have been no reports of issues on board with overflowing toilets or sewage. The toilet system had periodic interruptions yesterday evening and was fully restored at approximately 12.30am this morning.”
Naturally, many of the thousands of comments to Carnival’s statements posted on Facebook were critical of the company.
“OMG what the HELL is going on with CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE!” one commenter asked (replacing a question mark with an exclamation point).
Another commenter said: “Geez—there are lots of other cruise lines that aren't owned by Carnival and aren't always in the news for mechanical break downs! Try Royal Caribbean or Celebrity—they're great!”
Others were more generous to Carnival. For instance: “Wow, carnival is not having good luck these days! I'd still cruise with them though.”
And some said the media is blowing the situation out of proportion—including members of the media. Anthony De Rosa, social media editor at Reuters, tweeted:
Stock price drops
This morning, Carnival’s stock price dropped steeply, but has slowly recovered ground.
Beyond stockholders, the company is trying to make good with its passengers. In addition to flying Dream guests home, Carnival is giving them a refund equivalent to three days of the trip—the Dream was on the last leg of its seven-day voyage—as well as 50 percent off a future cruise.