Carnival’s choppy seas
It just keeps getting worse for Carnival Cruise Lines.
The month after the nightmare cruise of the Triumph, adrift for five days while 3,000 passengers were subjected to rotting food, no working toilets and no air conditioning, there was more bad news.
Carnival’s Dream was stranded in Saint Maarten after an emergency generator failed, overflowing toilets and causing power outages. More than 4,000 passengers were flown back to Florida.
The same week Carnival’s Elation had to be escorted by a tugboat back to New Orleans because of problems with its steering.
And Carnival’s Legend cut short the cruise for more than 2,000 passengers when it experienced technical issues with its propulsion system.
But the embarrassment, financial losses and headaches didn’t end there for the corporation whose Fantasy cruise ship is based in Charleston.
This week Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent Carnival a bill for $4 million to cover Coast Guard and Navy bailouts of the Splendor in 2010 and the Triumph last month. The bill came with a chiding letter from him in his capacity as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation:
“In just the past five years I am aware of 90 serious events that have occurred on your cruise ships.”
Now Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the travel industry to create a standard passenger bill of rights so cruise passengers know what is expected — and what forms of redress are available — when things go wrong.
And as if to forestall the government from imposing standards on the ships’ mechanical capabilities, Carnival has canceled Triumph’s next 10 cruises while improvements are made to its inadequate fire prevention and backup systems.
That isn’t the end.
Carnival’s image has suffered. It has even been added to the list of contestants in the Consumerist Worst Companies in America Tournament.
Last year video game giant Electronic Arts took home the Golden Poo trophy and Bank of America was second for the Silver Poo. This year, some think Carnival stands a good chance of “winning” in its first time around.
The tournament is structured like the NCAA basketball tournament, and in the first bracket Carnival is up against United Airlines with winners determined by online voting.
Oh, one more thing: Advance bookings for 2013 are behind the same point a year earlier.
Maybe Charleston residents and those historic preservation organizations concerned because no limits have been imposed on the number or size of cruise ships coming to Charleston won’t have to worry so much after all.