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PR Fail: Carnival Cruise Lines Needs to Clean Up Its Poop Deck
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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What should have been a trip to paradise has been dubbed as the "cruise from hell" and Carnival Cruise drove more than 4,100 people to the gates of those infernal flames on a ship with faulty electricity, HVAC and plumbing that has been compared to the Superdome in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In an article from the Wall Street Journal, Arian Campo-Flores waxes very polite when this was labelled as a "public relations headache for the company." 

Ya think? 

The deplorable thing in all of this is that the bigwigs at Carnival do not seem to have a clue on how to deal with this crisis. Take this dude, for example: 

Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival spokesman, wrote in an email response to questions that the company and outside agencies would conduct a detailed investigation of the accident. He added that Carnival complies with all safety standards set by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency. "Indeed, Carnival's own standards and policies often exceed international regulations," he wrote.

While that is impressive to write, and I'm sure he is proud of himself for remembering that talking point, it doesn't do that much good to the millions of people who have been watching this ordeal on the high seas unfold. From news stories to tweets, posts to a helicopter overhead, you think any talking point is going to help the tales of woe involving human waste in staterooms, four hours in line for a lukewarm hamburger, and kids freaking out because they have to pee overboard? Not. so. much. Oh yeah. And #cruisefromhell trended nationwide for two days. Good on ya', Carnival. 

How would you help this beleaguered cruise line overcome this crisis? PR? Direct marketing? Media tour with apoplectic remarks? According to this article in AdAgemore weathering of the storm: 

Carnival spokesperson Joyce Oliva said the company has no plans at the moment to do any advertising to reassure its customers about Carnival or cruising in general. "Right now, that is not our concern or is something on our radar," Ms. Oliva said. "I can't tell you 'Yes we're going to do this or no we're going to do that.'"

So there's that. The stock prices are plummeting. The reputation is fledgling. The customers are raging. And that sound you hear is profits just sucking away. The executives of Carnival need to do something about this circus (see what I did there) or the company will end becoming the BP of 2013. Mazel Mazel. Good job.

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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