The cruise industry has always been a very popular one, but in light of recent events, such as the Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire accident, and other serious incidents at sea, it appears as though America isn’t as keen on cruising as it used to be.
According to a Harris poll released on Monday, the nation’s trust in cruise lines has dropped significantly in the wake of the Carnival Triumph fire accident. The poll, which surveyed 2,230 U.S. adults between Feb. 19 and 21, found that America’s trust in Carnival Cruise Lines dropped 17% following the highly-publicized incident last month. But the disappointment in cruising wasn’t just pertaining to Carnival, the accident has also caused Americans to lose trust in other competitor lines as well, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, whose popularity has also declined, though not as much as Carnival’s.
Aside from losing trust in the industry, it appears that America has also changed its opinion on the quality of these brands, especially Carnival. According to the poll, America’s perception of the quality of the “Fun Ship” liner fell 18%.
But that’s not all, the Triumph fire accident and subsequent publication of the horrendously unsanitary conditions passengers were forced to endure for five long days at sea also resulted in a 13% decline of purchase intent. The poll also found that purchase intent dropped for Royal Caribbean and Norwegian as well.
When it comes to newcomers, it appears that the Triumph accident has put off first-timers so significantly, that the Harris poll revealed 58% of surveyors who had never taken a cruise admitted they were less likely to take one now than they were a year ago.
Additionally, the poll found that Americans perceive traveling by cruise ship to be less reliable than air travel, with 57% of surveyors believing air travel is more reliable than cruise travel and 50% believing that air travel is much safer than cruise travel.
Cruise ship safety has often been questioned, but the Carnival Triumph fire accident appears to have been the tipping point for cruise travelers. If trust in the cruise industry is ever to be regained, industry leaders are going to have to come up with a solid game plan to truly improve safety protocols fleet-wide.
Hopefully, maritime safety will be at the heart of the debate next week, when industry leaders are expected to gather at the 29th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference on Tuesday, March 12.
Seven heads of leading cruise lines are expected to discuss the industry’s current trends and future direction at the State of the Industry session, which will feature Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Others in attendance will include Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International; Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line; Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises; Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines; Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line; Pierfrancesco Vago, chief executive officer of MSC Cruises, and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises.
However, if the session proves to be a true reflection on the cruise industry’s current stance on improving shipboard safety, it is highly unlikely that this topic will even be discussed and much more likely that other, actual money-making strategies will be the focus.
According to Daniel Read, director of UBM’s Cruise Shipping Portfolio, the session will address “the trends and issues shaping the industry, including the on-board experience and attractions, newbuilds, ship revitalizations, globalization of the industry, technology and port and infrastructure development.” He makes no mention of safety, even adding that a “lively and informative panel discussion” is expected. It appears that cruise ship safety is just going to have to wait until a future conference decides that topic is worthy of discussion. Perhaps the Triumph fire came too late for the promoters of the conference to alter the program for this year’s conference.
It is disheartening to watch America’s trust in the cruise industry slip away. Cruising has always been a staple in the U.S., especially here in Miami, where our cruise lawyers are based. But unfortunately, even as the accident tally continues to rise, the industry doesn’t appear to be interested by responding with some concern towards improving safety across lines.
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