Titanic Tribulations

Recent cruise incidents setback industry’s smooth sailing


It’s no fun when a cruise becomes a party pooper.

The infamous ‘poop cruise’ by the Carnival Triumph, one of the many recent cruise mishaps, lost power because of a fire last February. It left about 4000 passengers and employees without functioning air conditioners, toilets, light, food, and water. The overflowing waste on the boat left the vacationers literally, and metaphorically, down in the dumps. But that wasn’t the sole disaster the cruise industry has faced recently.

In January 2012, Costa Concordia left 32 people dead after striking a rocky shore of an Italian island and falling to its side. Even more recently, about a month ago, Royal Caribbean’s Explorers of the Sea came home early from a 10-day cruise after almost 700 passengers and crew members became infected with the highly contagious norovirus; the resulting vomiting and diarrhea earned it the nickname “Exploders of the sea.”

With recurring incidents like those, cruise companies now are being forced to provide compensation and even rebuild the image of their brands. But despite all this, students are still readily embracing cruises with the usual excitement. With an entire industry already based on the ‘floating paradise’ concept, junior Hardik Modi said the limitless options for activities on cruises steer away any negativity. According to Modi, who has been on four cruises, his experiences have allowed him to see past the recent stigma of the industry because he said the accidents are rare.

“I know a lot of people who refrain[ed] from going on Carnival cruises for a little bit after that incident and [so] other companies gained more rep[utation from that],” Modi said. “And some people just don’t want to go on cruises because they’re just scared that it’s going to sink or whatever, but I mean it’s not that big of a deal and I don’t think it would really happen.”

Junior Tessa Stewart said the media also plays a part in hyping up the incidents and even compared the likelihood of a ship mishap to the chances of a plane crash.

“I’m not that concerned just [because] I feel like people who drive them are usually experienced,” Stewart said. “And [there’s] a one in a million chance that that’ll happen, so I think that sometimes people see one thing happen and they over analyze the situation.”

According to freshman Tanvi Jagtap, the overall thing to remember is that there is more positive feedback of cruises than negative.

“There are a lot of [workers on the boat], and they work really hard,” Jagtap said.“Each person does their part and they’re all really nice. So [with] each boat that does have an issue, I don’t think it’d be a continuing trend because they all do their best, and sometimes it happens. It seems like a big deal because it’s a big boat and…they’ve got a problem and it looks like this huge deal, but there are a lot of cruises that go around and nothing happens.”

With stories of stranded voyagers and tales of terrible inconveniences, however, students like Stewart are being more careful when it comes to picking a cruise line. Stewart, who is planning a senior trip to Australia with her grandmother, said she has had an experience with a cruise company that ended up getting stranded.

“[There was] one that got stuck in a sandbar [in Europe and they had to evacuate the whole ship]. We actually went on a cruise with that cruise line before,” Stewart said. “[So] my grandma’s just trying to avoid those kinds of companies and doing a little more research because before she never really checked up on it, but now she’s making sure to look into all those things.”

Jagtap also said she heard about a lot of the problems before going on her cruise to the Caribbean during winter break. Her family, however, wasn’t too concerned about a repeat.

“There was one incident that happened before we left then there was like a month or so of time for us to sort of forget about it,” Jagtap said. “And then we came back and we heard about some boat in Antarctica or somewhere was sinking and we were like, ‘Well, [good thing] that didn’t happen to us.’”

Whether the mishaps are strokes of bad fortune or a continuing trend, Jagtap said even with the recent negativity and revenue loss for cruises, the business won’t suffer.

“I don’t think a huge impact would happen on the cruise industry,” Jagtap said. “Cruises [are fun].”

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