Move over Carnival and Royal Caribbean, there’s a new big dog cruise line in town. Norwegian Cruise Line has just been named the World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line by the World Travel Awards for the second year in a row. What does this mean for the other two lines?
Carnival and Royal are the two largest cruise companies in the world, with Norwegian following closely behind at number three. Though the line had previously never been able to match the appeal of its competitors until now. We question whether the several recent cruise ship accidents involving Carnival and Royal ships (Carnival mostly) has enabled Norwegian to finally get its day in the limelight or whether the new Getaway ship about to launch in 2014 is the cause for the lines recent rave.
Norwegian was given the honor at the World Travel Awards 20th Annual Grand Final Gala in Qatar after votes placed by consumers and travel agents rating the cruise line on areas such as customer service and ship features were counted. At the event, Norwegian also walked away with several other accolades, including the award for Europe’s Leading Cruise Line, a recognition for which Norwegian has been honored for the past six consecutive years, and it was also named the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line – an honor that was once held by Carnival.
Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan accepted the award and expressed his gratitude to everyone who voted and showed support for the line. He noted that the line is “continuing to enhance and expand our fleet”, so we can only imagine what Norwegian will have in store for us after the Getaway.
We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. After several accidents involving Carnival and Royal ships, including the Carnival Corp. – owned Costa Cruises Concordia vessel, which capsized off the coast of Italy in 2012, the Carnival Triumph and Grandeur of the Seas fires, and several crimes, outbreaks, mechanical problems, and overboard accidents, these major cruise lines where bound to lose some of their appeal.
Our cruise ship lawyers reported on the falling stock prices of both Carnival and Royal back in June, after the widely publicized fire accidents, and how Norwegian’s stock, which was recently introduced, started doing pretty well for itself.
Harris Polls taken shortly after the Triumph and Grandeur fires revealed that America has lost faith in the cruising industry. The industry as a whole took a hit with these major accidents, despite other lines like Norwegian, having no part in them. Carnival was especially criticized for the way it handled the aftermath of the blaze. Over 4,000 people were left stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico amidst dire and unsanitary conditions. The Grandeur fire aftermath was conducted much more efficiently by Royal. The ship was diverted to Freeport and passengers whose cabins were affected by the fire were put up in hotel rooms on the island until flights back home were booked – all of which were paid for by Royal.
In an even further show of respect for their clients, Royal CEO Adam Goldstein and Vice President for Operations Lisa Lutoff-Perlo flew out to Freeport immediately after being notified of the fire to personally apologize to the guests. But despite this gesture, it the one Line that for the most part has stayed out of the news, Norwegian, is the Line that travelers gave the honors to.
This is not to say Norwegian ships don’t ever get involved in accidents on the high seas or in port, but we hear about them much less frequently. Carnival with the biggest fleet leads the way with the highest number of cruise ship accidents and crimes, and has lost a lot of respect from its guests. Trust in Carnival was down by around 17% following the Triumph fire, and that was a few months ago.
In its glory days, Carnival was revered as the “Fun Ship,” but these days, not much can be said about a friendly and family oriented atmosphere on Carnival ships. We hope the line will regain the popularity it once enjoyed, but the more accidents that are revealed, the less likely it will happen.
Our attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have reported on the safety features all cruise lines can add to their ships, including handheld infrared system that can detect a person in the water who has gone overboard, but despite the availability of the equipment and it’s minimal cost, most lines have not implemented these safety features to date.
Hundreds of accidents involving cruise ships are reported each year, and many other never see the light of day. Hopefully Norwegian’s recognition serves as a wake-up call to Carnival, Royal and all other lines that something must be done to improve passenger safety and it must be done soon if they do not want to continue to fall farther behind in the eyes of the Traveling public.