The cruise from hell is finally over for the 4,200 people aboard the Carnival ship Triumph, which was pulled to dock in Mobile, AL last night. With only one working elevator, it took hours for everyone to finally touch land, but passengers were obviously thankful.
“The stench was awful,” said 50-year-old Robin Chandler to the Chicago Tribune. “A lot of people were crying and freaking out.”
Passengers talked of raw sewage overflowing drains, a lack of food (there’s word of onion sandwiches), and food hoarding. By Thursday, there was a generator on board to prepare hot food and toilets had started to flush. Once on land, there were buses to Galveston, to New Orleans, and to local Mobile hotels available for traumatized passengers. Blankets, food, and cell phones were also on shore.
For their part, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill apologized to passengers. The company is offering them full compensation for their travel and cruise tickets, cruise credit for another future trip (as if), and $500.
But now there’s the issue of Carnival’s business. The company was criticized last year for not being more proactive when the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off of Italy. Carnival is the parent company for the Costa Cruises brand that operated that ship. In that incident, 32 people died.
As Ad Age points out, Carnival has done much as the situation unfolded to keep the public abreast of what’s happening, using Facebook and Twitter to issue updates. That’s all fine and good, but as prospective vacationers consider the details of how conditions on the Triumph deteriorated over the past few days, they’ll probably choose another kind of getaway, if not simply another cruise line. It’s possible many people could even live with the fact that things happen and there might be an incident while you’re on a cruise. But that it would lead to a lack of food and sanitation — virtual chaos — that’s a possibility that a lot of people won’t want to spend their money on.
With the Triumph docked, Carnival’s big problem is getting people to pay money to board one of its ships at some point in the future. The company’s stock closed down 11 cents on Thursday.