Carnival spends $300M to erase 'poop cruise' debacle

The cruise line is investing to upgrade every ship in its fleet, hoping to burnish its post-Triumph image.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 3, 2013 12:54PM

File photo of a Carnival cruise ship in Nassau Harbour, Providence Island, Bahamas (© Paul Brown/Rex Features)How do you come back from a disaster like the "poop cruise," the Triumph voyage earlier this year that stranded 3,000 passengers for five days after an engine fire? 

For Triumph owner Carnival (CCL), the answer involves a $300 million investment to upgrade every ship in its fleet, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The upgrades come after Carnival, which controls 50% of the cruise market, slashed rates in the immediate aftermath of the Triumph disaster. The company at one point offered a Caribbean cruise at cut-rate prices, offering berths for as little as $38 a night.

But low pricing apparently wasn't quite enough to convince consumers to book trips on the cruise line. Carnival, which oversees 10 cruise line brands including Carnival and Princess Cruises, last month said chief executive Micky Arison was stepping down as advance bookings continued to run lower than last year.

"I don't want to go through that again, and I don't want our guests to go through that," Gerry Cahill, the chief executive of the Carnival Cruise Lines unit, told the Times of the Triumph disaster, which led to overflowing toilets and food shortages.

So, what will passengers see for the $300 million? Most of work will be behind the scenes and is geared toward helping avoid similar disasters. Carnival's 24 cruise ships will receive upgraded onboard fire-detection and -extinguishing systems, as well as secondary emergency diesel generators. 

The line will also boost ad spending by 40% in the fall and roll out new ads featuring passengers talking about how much fun they had, the Times notes. 

Carnival has its work cut out for it: Only 4% of April respondents to an E-Poll Market Research survey said the company could be described as trustworthy, down from 9% in 2011. 

The spending might be one way to help boost confidence of would-be seafarers. Or as Gerry Philpott, president and chief executive of E-Poll, told the Times: "Unless Carnival promotes satisfaction guaranteed, they are going to have a difficult time getting new users."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Tags: CCL
Jul 3, 2013 2:02PM
I myself still struggle with the fact that NONE of the major cruise lines pay ANY Federal taxes because they aren't registered as "US" companies.  How many millions (or is it billions) of dollars go through this loophole every year ?  If you live in this country, do business in this country, or work in this country, you should pay this country taxes for the services that it provides you.  
Jul 3, 2013 1:29PM
I would NEVER use Carnval again!  I had one bad experience with NO satisfaction.  Try contacting them after you've been screwed over - they DON'T respond to you.  That's their customer satisfaction - it's called IGNORING the customer!  There are plenty of cruise lines - I will use RC in the future!  BYE BYE Carnval and I hope your business goes down the TOILET!
Jul 3, 2013 1:31PM
Greyhound Bus of the Sea. Filling a ship with Thousands of soon to be drunk people for days, no thanks. 
Jul 3, 2013 1:38PM
I have been on 7 carnival cruises over the past 10 years. And i do not think i will go on another one. Every cruise I have been on has had the same menu. All of it sub par. Drinks are too expensive. I think RC will  be my next cruise. Sorry Carnival... you have really dropped the ball
Jul 3, 2013 1:50PM
Call it a $300M mistake not moving passengers to a new ship and compensating them for the trouble. This is what happens when you think you're above your customers. I can't believe the shareholders haven't kicked this CEO out on the streets!
Jul 3, 2013 1:36PM
Whether the side of the ship says "Carnival" or not, the cruise company you use might actually be owned by Carnival.
Jul 3, 2013 1:40PM
Whatever happened to back up systems ?????
Jul 3, 2013 1:35PM
" Only 4% of April respondents to an E-Poll Market Research survey said the company could be described as trustworthy"

Well,  they had that coming,  didn't they?
Jul 3, 2013 2:19PM
What do you expect from an industry that goes out of it's way to avoid U.S. regulations by registering their ships overseas and hires unskilled labor for pennies a day.
Jul 3, 2013 1:46PM

My wife bought a Holland America cruise at a charity auction. I didn't want to go as the last cruise I went on was with Uncle Sam's cruise lines to SE Asia. I did and had a lot better time than I though I would. Food was good, drinks were ok and the optional sidetrips were worthwhile also. I'd go on Holland America again but not any others.

Jul 3, 2013 2:12PM
A good friend of mine just returned from a trip with carnival and I have to say I was amazed at the poor conditions of his room. He has been a guest with them for years and this is making him rething his future cruises. His sheets were stained, the shower had mold all over it and a lot of the trim around the room was broken. Even after his complaints these issues weren't taken care of. He posted a video on youtube for those of you that would like to see the evidence.
Jul 3, 2013 2:16PM

Spend a little more and take a liner that truly cares about it's passengers and not the CEO's bonus!

Bonus's ...the scurge of corporate America!  No wonder we cannot get ahead.  There isn't any money left in the coffers at the end of the day!

Jul 3, 2013 2:07PM
By the way, the article says Micky Arison was stepping down, but their Money page that lists Key Developments says he is staying on as Chairman of the Board.  And don't feel sorry for the cruise line either (I know you aren't) because even though they report ONLY $41 MILLION in revenue for the last quarter, they were making in the BILLIONS before that.  They can well afford the upgrades that should have been there in the first place to AVOID the disaster(S) rather than spending money after the fact.  The only thing they do for Americans is take their money, fleece them for more money during the cruise, then ignore them after it's over.
Jul 3, 2013 2:09PM

So why don't they also install a redundant system for unforeseen failures, like a larger holding tank for the toilets, more macerators (where they are permitted) more food and water, more generators to run the systems including the AC, a secondary power plant with props in the middle or slightly forward of the stern to slowly motor into a port.  Those of us in the midwest would never go out in dangerous waters without a backup engine, extras provisions and life jackets, and water enabled SOS/GPS system.


There are many features they could add that would allow passengers to be comfortable for a long period of time, even weeks, thus avoiding the embarrassment  of their latest debacles.  Yes, it would cost them the space of a few berths, and maybe some extra weight, but look at the damage done without these features.


And this isn't directed just at Carnival.  These measures should be adopted by the entire shipping industry, including commercial carriers.




Jul 3, 2013 2:56PM

For my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary my siblings and I took them on a ten day cruise to Bermuda through Royal Caribbean. We got them a cabin with a deck and all the trimmings. It was the first time any of went on a cruise. We all had a very good time. We took side trips. We went to the shows. We shopped and did some gambling. My parents and sisters loved the buffet while my brother and I preferred a sit down meal.


We  had a few glitches when we had a little bit of rough weather and could not use the pool that day. Other than that we had a very enjoyable time. My parents sixtieth wedding anniversary is coming up next year and we would like to take than on another cruise with the same cruise line on one of their new ships.


I have traveled by plane, car, train, and boat and you can always experience horror stories no matter which way you travel. You can also have good times and make good memories. You just have to choose which way to travel is the best way for you.

Jul 3, 2013 1:32PM
Hahahaha   Can't convince  me to  take a cruise.    Why  do  I want to catch  some $%%@@ flu   that  will  make me so sick I can't  enjoys  my over priced vacation.  Face   it  there will always be some  $##$  fool   sick   or with sick  kids get on  board and share.    /Floating  on  a top  heavy  boat    with thousands   of  other people  just is not my  idea   of fun  or relaxation. 
Jul 3, 2013 1:46PM
lots of money for fire stuff - but nothing for new toilets? so if anything goes wrong passengers will still have to drop trou next to the Caribbean Room shrimp buffet?

sell THAT for $38. i dare ya.

Jul 3, 2013 1:57PM
Carnival Corporation is incorporated in Panama in 1972 and Carnival plc is incorporated in England and Wales in 2000. Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc operate a dual listed company (‘DLC’), whereby the businesses of Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc are combined through a number of contracts and through provisions in Carnival Corporation’s Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws and Carnival plc’s Articles of Association. The Company is a global cruise company and one of the vacation companies in the world. The Company’s portfolio of cruise brands includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises (UK), and Cunard in the United Kingdom; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; Iberocruceros in Spain; and P&O Cruises (Australia) in Australia.  The Company ships, which are registered in the Bahamas, Bermuda, Italy, the Netherlands, Panama, Portugal and the UK, are regulated by these jurisdictions and are required to comply with the international conventions that govern the safety of its ships, guests and crew and the protection of the environment.
Jul 3, 2013 1:54PM

I'll never, ever cruise Carnival.  I started cruising in the 70's when most ships only carried 600-800 passengers.  That was perfect - enough people to have fun without long lines, no chairs at the pool etc.  Of course they didn't have rock climbing, surfing, et al, but I 'd rather experience sailing than all that junk!  The ships looked and felt like seaworthy vessels, not floating blocks and the pools were open to the horizon, not enclosed or surrounded by "stuff".  I read that Viking is going to build two sea going vessels with 800 passenger capacity, now those are ships I'd love to sail on.


First and only monolithic ship I sailed on was Princess from San Juan to NYC with over 3,000 passengers.  We hit a tropical storm off Hatteras with 67 mph sustained winds, 40' waves.  The promenade deck doors blew off, we were confined to our bunks an entire day, were a day late arriving in NYC.  Relieved me of my desire sail the Atlantic, or at least the graveyard of the Atlantic - Hatteras. The huge waves pounding sounded like the steel was being ripped off the hull and the Golden Princess rolled so much we spent half the time with feet over head.

Jul 3, 2013 1:55PM

Well at least we can say they are making an effort. Clearly they got lax and the recent failures and the public's exodus was a good dose of cold water to wake them up. Time will tell if it pays off.

Hopefully it works and they learn their lesson and resume their focus on offering a good product not solely the bottomline. I always wonder how the execs think that cutting corners will make you money? Yeah, short term, but as we see here, longterm, it cost them! That's the problem with society today, to much short term thinking.

Anyways I digress, wife and I went on cruise for honeymoon and we had a blast and I would go again, 5yrs ago on the Carnival Legend. Face it, a cruise is not for everyone and like any trip of this nature do your homework ahead of time and know what to expect. Talking to others that have been is also a good idea to learn some pointers.

One thing I don't think I would like though is to be on some of these newer even larger ships. The worst part was that you start to have to many people plain and simple. There are only so many amenities on board and when you get to port the influx is huge. Other than that, that was the only real thing I didn't like.

I think its time

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