The past few years haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for Carnival Corp. – no pun intended. From the February 2013 fire that disabled the Carnival Triumph to the devastating Costa Concordia capsizing tragedy, Carnival Corp. has taken a hit, both in popularity and profits. But while Carnival may be the largest cruise company, and as such, it may take a lot more than a few bad years of negative press for Carnival to really experience a company-changing loss, it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room. You know, that big one in the middle of the room that’s called negligence, plain and simple. The vast majority of the cruise ship accidents that have befouled Carnival Corp. – and not to mention the large number of crimes – are, in our opinion, directly attributed to the cruise company’s failure to abide by the highest standards of maritime safety.
Sure, there is always a chance that an accident can occur that’s completely the result of chance alone. Perhaps it’s just an unlucky day where everything seems to go wrong aboard a cruise ship or a series of unfortunate events. Strange occurrences can – and do – happen. However, in our years of experience as maritime lawyers and all the unusual (and not so unusual) accidents we’ve seen at our firm, the fact remains that most incidents at sea are the direct result of the cruise line or a crew member’s negligent actions.
The Carnival Triumph accident, for example, was recently found a by Federal Judge in Miami to have been negligent in the operation of the cruise vessel under a legal doctrine called Res Ipsa Loquiotr. What this legal doctrine means is that the type of incident like the Triumph would not have happened without some type of negligence on the part of Carnival. As a result, nearly 4,000 people were left stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for five days amidst some of the most ghastly and unsanitary conditions ever reported on a ship.
Then there’s the Costa Concordia accident of 2012 (Costa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival). We can’t even begin to list all the ways in which Carnival Corp.’s negligence resulted in this horrific accident that claimed the lives of 32 individuals. From the fact that the captain was allowed to make a last minute call to change the vessel’s course (a decision which led to the ship crashing into a giant rock and capsizing) to the fact that the evacuation process was a total nightmare, as per survivor recounts, the Concordia accident was wrought with negligence. And let’s not forget about the fact that the captain, Francesco Schettino, abandoned ship before even half the passengers were safely off the sinking vessel. Schettino is still on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship charges, so we’ve yet to learn of his fate. But sadly, the fate of those onboard the Concordia could have been drastically different had the cruise company worked harder at establishing stricter safety regulations for both crew members and emergency evacuation protocols.
And we also can’t forget the number of sexual assaults reported on Carnival Corp. ships, the number of deaths and the number of overboard accidents. All of these statistics have led the public’s trust in Carnival to drop significantly, and sure enough, it has affected the company’s profits. But is Carnival taking a larger hit than we thought? Former Carnival CEO Micky Arison’s recent actions may be foretelling a greater problem within the company that we may not have been privy to.
Arison cashed out a pretty significant chunk of Carnival stock. But why? Is something going on within the cruise line? Check out Part 2 of our blog for more details.