New Harris Poll Shows Cruise Line Popularity Continues to Drop in the Wake of Triumph Fire

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Just a few days ago, our cruise ship accident lawyers blogged about the recent fire onboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas and whether or not the incident would affect the popularity of the cruise industry. Although Royal acted quickly to ensure passengers were kept safe from harm and provided more than enough compensation for the incident, the fact of the matter is that this was only the latest in a long line of accidents that had befallen the cruise industry in the past two years.

Beginning with the Costa Concordia crash in Italy in 2012 and carrying on to the cruise ship fire onboard the Carnival Triumph, the cruise industry has undoubtedly experienced a decline in popularity as passengers grow increasingly afraid of whether or not they will be safe if they board a cruise ship.

One or two sparing cruise ship accidents may not necessarily affect the appeal of cruise travel significantly, but it just seems that these days, there is never a day without the media reporting some sort of accident, cruise ship sexual assault, disappearance, or crime.

The number of incidents occurring due to a lack of cruise ship safety has undoubtedly taken a toll on the industry. Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise ship operator, already reported an 18% drop in their earnings forecast in order to account for all the accidents and subsequent complaints and criticisms the industry has been facing – most of which, including the Concordia and Triumph accidents, occurred on Carnival ships.

Following the Triumph fire, which has been regarded as one of the worst accidents in maritime history, America’s trust in cruise lines began to show a sharp decline. Although no one was seriously injured or killed in the fire, the horribly unsanitary conditions that emerged where beyond belief, as passengers were forced to defecate in plastic bags and walk around sewage and waste that overflowed from non-working toilets.

However, a recent Harris poll released this week which surveyed Americans regarding their opinion of cruise lines revealed that their trust in the cruise industry has further declined.

The poll, which surveyed 2,052 adults in the U.S. between May 14 and 16, found that between the time of this survey and the prior Harris poll back in February after the Triumph fire, America’s trust in the cruise industry declined another 5% from the previous 18% reported.

This latest bit of information suggests that the cruise industry may have taken a harder hit than was previously imagined after the Carnival Triumph fire, because it was taken before the Grandeur of the Seas incident occurred. Who knows where those numbers would be if another survey was taken in the wake of that accident.

After the Triumph fire, many predicted the cruise industry would eventually bounce back, especially because many lines cut their prices in order to increase bookings. Yet, this poll shows that citizens are becoming much less inclined to forgive cruise lines for their mistakes, especially Carnival Corp., which the poll showed experienced an additional 11% drop to a whopping 26% overall decline in popularity.

But while other competing lines have also been affected, this poll continues to show that no other cruise company has been criticized as much for their lack of safety features as Carnival.

In fact, the Harris poll showed that Carnival has suffered a 20% decline in purchase intent and of the people who were surveyed and who have never taken a cruise vacation before, 56% said they were less likely to book a cruise vacation now than a year ago.

If this isn’t enough to merit Carnival to take swift action to improve its safety features, who knows what will actually get through to the “Fun Ship” liner.  Carnival previously mentioned it had been working on a fleet-wide safety upgrade, but as far as we can see, nothing has changed in the cruise industry to make passengers feel safer.