The Carnival Costa Concordia is back in the news this week. Costa Cruises, the Carnival Corp. unit which operated the ship, agreed to pay a $1.3 million fine to the Italian government after a fatal 2012 voyage on the ship resulted in the loss of 32 lives when the boat partially sank off the coast of Italy. The fee is part of a settlement that would dismiss the cruise line from possible criminal charges related to the Costa Concordia tragedy. The agreement, however, reportedly has no bearing on potential lawsuits from the ship’s passengers or crew.
Carnival certainly didn’t do itself any favors in waning off public concern or comforting victims at the time of the Costa Concordia disaster. The Carnival crisis PR efforts surrounding the fatal incident left much to be desired. A slow response and a seeming lack of sympathy or responsibility created a full-blown PR crisis for Carnival, which hasn’t seemed to slow down.
In recent months, the Carnival damage control efforts have gone into overdrive as a string of unfortunate events have kept the troubled cruise line in the harsh media limelight. The Carnival Triumph’s February voyage became known as the “cruise from hell” when a power loss left passengers stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in filthy conditions. Just a month later, the Carnival Dream suffered a generator failure. Continued mechanical issues and a runaway ship are among the latest woes in the Carnival PR crisis.
Despite the constant challenges, the Carnival public relations efforts have certainly improved since the Costa Concordia incident. The cruise line has responded to recent crises by providing quick and clear public communication, accepting responsibility and promising specific actions to resolve the problems.
However, the critical mass of negative events would be tough for the most renowned company to withstand. At some point, concrete evidence of forward progress will have to surface for the Carnival brand to stay buoyant long-term.