After a crisis like an outbreak companies have to balance between rebuilding the brand and pragmatism. In 2013, passengers of the Carnival Triumph, affectionately known as the Poop Cruise, were stuck at sea for 5 days with no power, little food and lots of public health risks. Folks reported sewage running down the walls and floors and being asked to defecate in bags and urinate in showers due to a lack of functioning toilets.
In damage control mode, Carnival offered discounts, some cash and complementary bathrobes.
Some cruisers felt Carnival didn’t go far enough to make up for the experience and have sued the cruise line.
A lawsuit brought by 33 passengers of the ill-fated 2013 voyage could change how cruise lines insulate themselves from legal actions, according to maritime legal experts.
The Miami lawsuit is the first from the Triumph incident to go to trial, with others in preparation, according maritime lawyers.
In a statement, Carnival Corp said that while it recognizes its guests experienced uncomfortable conditions, everyone returned safely and were provided with a full refund, a free future cruise and an additional $500 per person.
“This is an opportunistic lawsuit brought by plaintiff’s counsel and plaintiffs who seek to make a money grab,” a company spokeswoman said.
One of the plaintiffs, Debra Oubre, 59, said she has experienced panic and anxiety attacks since the cruise, and also blames the experience for a urinary tract infection.
“It was chaotic. People were in dire need of help,” said Oubre. “We were standing in line for food for five hours.”
Cruise lines like Carnival have successfully inoculated themselves against passenger lawsuits by printing stringent terms on their tickets that require passengers to waive their right to a class-action lawsuit.