Carnival turns on-ship flooding into a torrent of PR praise
Rapidly flooding ship decks terrified passengers; the viral video of it
horrified Carnival Cruise PR reps.
The social media storm hit Carnival when a water line broke, flooding some
50 staterooms aboard its Caribbean-bound ship. The cruise line is garnering
plaudits for its response, both from the ship’s crew and the line’s brand
Video and photographic footage from a Thursday flood on the Carnival Dream,
caused by a break in the ship’s fire suppression system, shows gallons of
water gushing out of pipes like a bath faucet turned on. The rushing water
filled hallways with roiling pools, and spurted out of walls.
“I literally thought this was a scene from ‘Titanic,’ ” a Facebook user
posted on a passenger’s thread that displayed images of water gushing all
over the hallway of Deck 9.
The video got extensive attention before being taken down by its
videographer. Screen grabs endure on Twitter, however.
Video: Water line break floods dozens of rooms on Carnival cruise https://t.co/B9y0nmm6yc pic.twitter.com/7EBDCFYoWo
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) May 7, 2018
The Miami Herald continued:
Passenger Marla DeAnn Haase’s post with the video and images on Facebook is
the one that especially caught social media’s attention. In a big way. More
than 10,000 people shared her first post, stamped 6:33 p.m. on May 3. Her
video of water pouring from the ceiling and walls has had more than 1.3
Um….FB folks…..this is a rare moment of internet connection ….we
are flooding on a cruise, we heard the violins and the silverware all
came crashing down. What in the world….say a prayer for is [sic] all.”
A response: “What in the Titanic?”
Another: “I cannot fathom how scary this had to be. Hoping you all are safe
and will get full refunds!”
Carnival Cruise Line sprang into action, offering refunds to affected
passengers and sending statements to media outlets that were covering the
In an emailed statement, cruise line spokeswoman Annemarie Mathews said it
took six hours for the crew to replace or dry out the carpeting in the
hallway and 50 staterooms.
About 100 guests were affected by the flooding. Mathews said the cruise
line provided full refunds to all those guests, as well as a discount on a
Mathews said two guests accepted the company’s offer to fly them home
early. The ship returned to its homeport in New Orleans as scheduled Sunday
The company also put out
this press release:
The Carnival Dream has continued on its 7-day Caribbean cruise
uninterrupted after the water line break on Thursday evening, May 3. It
will return to its homeport of New Orleans as scheduled on Sunday
morning. The water main break had no effect on the safe operation of
the ship. The safety and security of our guests and crew is our top
Both our crew and our guests have been amazing during this voyage. The
water line break occurred at 6:00 p.m. and in six hours, our crew had
replaced hall and stateroom carpeting, dried out other sections of
carpeting that were damp but did not need to be replaced, and restored
the 50 staterooms so that all guests could sleep in their beds that
evening. There were a handful of guests that chose to sleep elsewhere
that first night and we moved mattresses to the spa for them.
We never want our guests to experience anything other than a perfect
vacation, so we sincerely regret that we inconvenienced nearly 100
guests. We provided a full refund and a future cruise credit as a
goodwill gesture. We offered to fly the impacted guests home at our
expense if they wanted to disembark early and only two of the nearly
100 guests that received our offer chose to do so. Most of the guests
on board were not even aware of the incident until the last 24 hours as
word circulated and our passengers heard from friends and family who
saw media reports. Needless to say, the tremendous positive attitude of
our guests and crew is proof of why we are America’s favorite cruise
Carnival’s crisis response got two thumbs up from many, including
Minda Zetlin, writing for Inc.
She offered these reasons for why the Carnival deserved crisis
1. They were completely transparent.
Carnival crew welcomed Haase when she videoed the informal bucket brigade
of uniformed staff scooping up water, and many of them smiled for the
2. It took decisive action swiftly to make up for the damage.
A full refund plus 50 percent discount plus airline tickets for roughly 100
passengers is a significant expense […] Yet Carnival was able to announce
its offers in less than 24 hours.
3. It did not minimize the incident.
No one was endangered, fewer than 100 passengers out of a total of 3,500
were directly affected, and the situation was resolved in less than six
hours. […] But Carnival resisted any impulse to treat the flood as no big
4. It praised its customers.
Carnival was justifiably proud of the quick response by its crew members.
But the company said this in its statement: “Both our crew and our guests
have been amazing during this voyage.”
Curiously, Carnival stayed off its social media channels despite prior
One thing it could have shared online: a video of the hallway after it had
been drained and repaired. The company even took the time to create a
video, adding it to
its press release:
A before-and-after montage, shared across social media channels, could have
been powerful. After all, it was video of a flooded hallway that grabbed
attention in the first place.
What do you think of Carnival’s crisis response, PR Daily readers?