Gini Dietrich

Carnival Cruise Lines Silent About Latest Accident

By: Gini Dietrich | February 28, 2012 | 

We’re about to find out if Carnival Cruise Lines has learned their social media crisis lesson or if they’re going to continue their silence vows.

Yesterday, the Costa Allegra (of the Costa Concordia line) had a fire erupt in the generator room, leaving the ship without lights and air conditioning.

The soonest rescue boats will reach the ship is sometime today.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Italian Coast Guard officials said emergency generators are keeping the ship’s control room illuminated and communications equipment such as radios running. The paper is also reporting officials said the cruise liner is holding steady, despite five-foot waves in the area and passengers are being kept in the ship’s big communal rooms, not in their cabins.

As well, the ship is adrift off the coast of Tazania…where there have been a rash of Somali pirate attacks in recent months.

But, as of this writing, there is no mention of the fire or the Costa Allegra on any of their social networks.

In fact, the most recent Facebook update is from yesterday and it’s about a sale they’re having on upgrades.

Out of curiosity, I scrolled through the fan comments and found a few things about the accident and about some passengers that were robbed during a stop in Mexico.

Notice how there are no comments from Carnival? None. Some of the other fans are talking to one another (which is an indication of a good community), but Carnival should be responding to these things.

So I took Dawn LeGrand’s advice and hopped over to the Costa Cruise Lines Facebook page.

They are constantly updating their wall with news about Costa Allegra.

But. And this is a big BUT. They’ve shut down the option for anyone to comment directly on their wall or to tag them. You can comment on their updates, but you can’t leave a comment yourself. So the only information coming from the company is news on what’s happening.

The only place a customer or concerned fan can voice an opinion is on the Carnival Cruise Lines Facebook page…and they’re ignoring everyone there.

Also, Costa has 16,000 fans and Carnival has more than one million.

Where do they think people are going to go?

I’m sorry. If you have a complaint, you have to go to our sister’s page. We don’t hear them here.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next few days. If the past 24 hours is any indication, they didn’t learn their social media lesson from the Costa Concordia.

Now, who’s ready to go on a cruise?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • lfeyduncan

    @ginidietrich In PR, silence is rarely golden:-(

    • ginidietrich

      @lfeyduncan It pains me.

  • TroyClaus

    I leave for a cruise in 2 weeks lmao 🙂 But i don’t cruise with Carnival, so that makes me feel a bit better. 

    • ginidietrich

       @TroyClaus I’d be freaking out if it were on Carnival. They’re a mess! Where are you going??

      • TroyClaus

         @ginidietrich Heading to Bahamas, St.Thomas and St. Martin on RC. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

           @TroyClaus You will love it!

  • This could end up being one of the biggest social media gaffes so far, because they aren’t learning from their mistakes, and it’s not going away. Often these things will fade over time. So far this isn’t happening. So it’s a good case study on why not to go into “ignore mode”.

    • ginidietrich

       @KenMueller On one hand, I feel badly for them this stuff keeps happening. On the other, I’m quite incredulous they’re not doing ANYTHING. No communication at all. It’s really painful to watch.

      •  @ginidietrich It truly is painful to watch. Just heard about the Mexican robberies this morning and was dumbfounded when I heard Carnival mentioned in the same sentence. Wow.
         @KenMueller is right, they can’t go into “ignore mode” and going into “talk to our sister” mode isn’t doing them any favors either. Wow.

        • ginidietrich

           @EricaAllison  I think it’s interesting their fans are telling one another where to get information. But nothing from the company.

        •  @ginidietrich As you’ve said, they are a good community, and that’s why it’s more painful to see there’s no one on the other side willing to engage, give some answers and make them feel heard. Traveling with a feeling of uncertainty and a pinch of fear it’s just awful!

        • ginidietrich

           @GiseleNMendez Exactly! It’s so easy to address those kinds of concerns, yet they’re completely silent. 

      • @ginidietrich @KenMueller Stop guys, I once read a tweet from a PR maven that said your problems will go away if you ignore them long enough. It must be true, it was on Twitter

        • ginidietrich

           @SociallyGenius  @KenMueller Oh right. It was on the Internet. Of course it’s true.

    •  @KenMueller they need to hire us Ken!

  • ginidietrich

    @sacevero They’re really hurting me. I don’t get it.

    • sacevero

      @ginidietrich Yeah this is perplexing. Awful to think I was going to book my 1st cruise, and will prob never book w/ Carnival due to this.

      • ginidietrich

        @sacevero And you’re not alone. The entire industry is down since the Costa Concordia accident. Now this.

  • djordon

    @ginidietrich Big mistake on their part. Imagine what those passengers will post/tweet after this cruise…

    • ginidietrich

      @djordon Right?? It pains me.

  • cision

    @ginidietrich Wow…that is all I have. Silence is killing me too! On another note, how was Florida? I’ll be there on Saturday 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @cision I missed you!

      • cision

        @ginidietrich I missed you too! 🙂

  • This is why Social Media is dangerous Gini! When Doritos had their page filled with porn links I contacted them asking if they knew. They said they had an agency handling that and it was covered.
    The moral of the story is you need to be active on the page or have no page at all.

    • @HowieSPM Are you qualified to give morals to stories? I’m gonna have to check with @ginidietrich about that

    • ginidietrich

       @HowieSPM LOL!! Clearly it was covered.

  • This is just crazy: I always want to give brands the benefit of the doubt–so much of this stuff is still new and we’re all still figuring it out.  Everyone should get a do-over.  But to not learn from your mistakes at all?  Not acceptable.  
    What really scares me is what other operational mistakes they’re making that they have not learned from…

    • ginidietrich

       @tonia_ries I thought it was interesting the Sun-Times story quoted a Costa captain who speculated on what he thinks is going on on the ship. Nothing from the parent company. 

      •  @ginidietrich Nature abhors a vacuum. And (ex)customer and (possibly disgruntled) employees will fill your brand’s silence for you…

        • ginidietrich

           @tonia_ries Sigh…

  • Good article. If you’re going to have a social media outlet… USE IT! They missed a lot of chances to do some damage control… or at least attempt it.

    • ginidietrich

       @KatieParvin18 And to ease some serious concerns. I keep refreshing their page to see if they’re doing anything. They’re not. 🙁


    That’s so crazy. I’m actually thinking about taking a cruise for my 25th this year after a really great cruise over Christmas.

    Carnival/Costa really need their PR act together, as does the IRS…but these are the days.

    • ginidietrich

       @IAMKJR And the post office…

  • Rhysorwin

    @GiseleNMendez It was a head in hands moment earlier when I saw this story! We should take over their social roles I think!

    • GiseleNMendez

      @rhysorwin We should! It’s killing me to see all these people asking and sharing their doubts/fears, and not receiving a single reply!

      • Rhysorwin

        @GiseleNMendez They are having a bad bad few weeks

  • I think we (no, NOT US) are the suckers because they’re still getting close to 1000 likes per post. Personally, I think Americans are terribly short sighted when it comes to carrying about things that happen outside of our country. If a cruise liner crashed into a coral reef and killed a manatee off the Florida coast, there would be mass calls for boycotts. When bad things happen outside our castle, we make fun of it with a “sucks for them mentality.”

    Maybe Carnival’s boat will sink if Johnny Depp leads the Somali pirates and pillage the Costa – Then We’d care and really start crying out.

    • ginidietrich

       @SociallyGenius But they have more than a million fans. So that’s less than one percent of their audience. And there are lots of fans commenting on their page about the Mexican robbery, yet they’re not saying a word.

      • @ginidietrich Yeah, I’m wrong… It happens once a week. At least I got 5 days of perfection left in the hopper!

  • write4unj

    I’ll stick with my kayak, thank you very much. If I’m going out on the water, I want to be in charge.
    On a more serious note, it doesn’t look like Carnival has learned any communications lessons. As the FB posters pointed out, one division just had a group of passengers robbed in Mexico, now they have the fire and aftermath (and it isn’t their first fire and ship stranding), and they’re still trying to explain the Concordia. I wouldn’t go on a Carnival vessel if they paid me. They really need to start owning the situation and discussing it.

    • ginidietrich

       @write4unj I think you’re like most – if people have read the story about these incidents, no one is cruising with Carnival. 

  • ginidietrich

    @MichelleDouglas And they all have to sleep outside…no air conditioning. Great, huh?

  • Yikes… I met my wife on a Carnival cruise but this is just plain scary. Wasn’t Carnival the brand that said they were going SM dark after the crash in Europe that killed 30?

    • ginidietrich

       @jeffespo Yes. They are one and the same. 
      I didn’t know you met your wife on a cruise! That’s a story I have to hear!

  • stefaniehawkes

    Transparency goes farther than may brands are realizing. People react better if you keep them looped in and stay honest.  Ignoring them is not going to make them go away and it reflects poorly on the brands communication/customer service.  One would think customer service should be at the top of their priority list seeing it’s a cruise line.

    • ginidietrich

       @stefaniehawkes I think it’s funny they won’t talk about it so people go to the Costa page and they don’t allow any comments, except on the news items they’re posting.

  • I say we set up a FB page and Twitter account for the Iceberg that kills cruise ships and then fill it with all sorts of cool and snarky comments about what we are going to do to the ships that come by.
    That ought to teach those Carnival people about what happens when they don’t fill the gaps in social media.
    P.S. on my next cruise I am bringing a Cutlass and a Saber- and I am not talking about cars. Damn pirates will learn not to mess with TheJackB.
    Wonder if any of the execs have really thought about what happens when their customers and prospective customers feel like there is no communication. Probably has to hit their profits before they notice.
    Anyhoo, say hi to Captain Stubing for me.

    •  @TheJackB Will there be rum? And wenches? 

      •  @jasonkonopinski Yep, rum, wenches not to mention great activities like pillage and plunder.

    • ginidietrich

       @TheJackB OMG!!!!!!!!! That is brilliant! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    • @TheJackB Let me know when it’s up so I can throw the first harpoon!

  • amvandenhurk

    @ericamallison @ginidietrich I know! Someone is asleep at the helm there…

    • ginidietrich

      @amvandenhurk It’s so painful to watch

      • amvandenhurk

        @ginidietrich it is unneeded. Really.

  • Robb_Wexler

    @ginidietrich Maybe they should rename the company “Gilligan Cruise Lines”

    • ginidietrich

      @Robb_Wexler You know, they should hire you for rebranding. That is an awesome name

      • Robb_Wexler

        @ginidietrich Before or after they tie me in the bottom of the boat and flood it?

        • ginidietrich

          @Robb_Wexler No one is going to tie you to a boat.

        • Robb_Wexler

          @ginidietrich Drat…I was hoping to get some swimming exercise in.

        • ginidietrich

          @Robb_Wexler Go to the pool!

        • Robb_Wexler

          @ginidietrich Excellent idea. I hearby anoint you my pool consultant.

        • ginidietrich

          @Robb_Wexler YAY!!

  • TheRedDogInn

    @ginidietrich Apparently, they are employing Python tactics: “RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!”

    • ginidietrich

      @TheRedDogInn Wait til you see the one I found for tomorrow. I’m shaking my head

  • PRobablyRachel

    I love cruising and will continue to do so, but I have never and will never cruise on Carnival or any of the cruise lines that it owns because they have some serious operational issues, that it appears trickle down into customer service, social media responsiveness and overall communication.

    • ginidietrich

       @PRobablyRachel Like you, I love to cruise. But I will never even consider booking with Carnival. Ever.

      •  @ginidietrich @PRobablyRachel I’ve been on 4 cruises.. all w/ Carnival (which I’ve enjoyed) and THIS is the problem. It’s not that they have issues – every cruise line (or major brand) has problems, issues, detractors.
        The problem here is that these problems are 1) coming hard and fast which 2) is sparking a lot of media and social attention which 3) is being wrongly ignored by TPTB with 4) the possible strategy of trying to ‘hide’ under a different ‘brand’ name and 5) made even worst b/c they are NOT responding. I write it all the time: ‘mistakes happen, it’s what you DO about them that will make a difference.’ 
        This could have been an opportunity: to do right by passengers; do more to step up for the industry and the safety measure they do enforce; show consumers their responsiveness and willingness to not only listen, but make positive changes; and perhaps, win over a few people to giving the brand a try. But they’ve blown it and have alienated folks who’ll now never give it a consideration.
        Gini, you mentioned their strong community (a rarity on a brand page, something they got right); they could and should be building on that goodwill and engaging more. Done right: they cut off some of this ill will at the knees, give it nowhere to go, maybe take back a little ‘control’ of the message or at least, by responding they get off the front pages of the ‘how long will they be silent’ pundits and back to the work they need to do.
        Instead, it’s crickets. FWIW.

  • trontastic

    I made the mistake of reading @TheJackB ‘s comment before writing this so now I’ve got bad pirate songs stuck in my head and visuals of Gini wearing an eye patch.
    I keep going back and forth in my head as to whether or not this is intentional on their part, or just poor execution.
    One thing I keep going back to is regardless of how important it is to communicate with consumers, if they truly are in a hostile area with minimal ways to protect themselves or their passengers, they need to stay as quiet as possible. Handle the PR later, but for right now, concentrate on getting everyone in a safe place.

    •  @trontastic What would be really cool is to see @ginidietrich do the Facebook Question of the Week dressed up in Pirate gear. Alternatively she could dress up as a wench and attribute her new look to the Shine rules for women in the workplace that she blogged about the other day. 😉

      • trontastic

         @TheJackB  @ginidietrich do ya think she could make through an entire FBQ using a pirate accent without cracking up?

        • ginidietrich

           @trontastic  @TheJackB No, I couldn’t. 

    • ginidietrich

       @trontastic  I think it’s intentional…at least it was for Costa Concordia. But, when you have more than a million fans and the industry is being hurt by your lack of communication, I think it’s time to rethink your strategy.

  • Sad. I don’t think businesses realize that social media isn’t a joke. It’s a way to represent your brand and communicate with customers. When your customers use your Facebook page as a customer service center, you have no choice but to treat it like one. If you’re not responding to customers or letting customers have the freedom to contact you and voice their concerns/praise, whatever it may be- than that’s a reflection of business, not just your marketing department. Regardless of the operational issues, I wouldn’t book with Carnival simply for the fact that they don’t seem to care about their customers. If they’d have handled these issues with grace and compassion then that would be a different story.

    • ginidietrich

       @courtney petty I have a friend who says you’re always remembered by the way you left, not in the work you did while you were here. He says that about people who quit or are fired. But I think it applies here. Like BP and Enron and so many other ego-centric companies, we’ll remember how Carnival behaved through all of this, no matter what they do in the future.

  • WHEN WILL COMPANIES LEARN? The irony is that companies involve people – real people – and yet, they act as if they can hide somewhere and not address their customers. It’s time to wake the bleep up. 

    • ginidietrich

       @jeanniecw Right? It’s so frustrating to me. I mean, they have customers posting on their wall with very valid concerns and NO ONE is answering them. It’s PR. It’s operations. It’s customer experience. It’s bad.

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,
    I simply can’t resist…..
    “I’ve seen wrecks, plenty of wrecks, out on the deep blue sea,
    But by heck there never was a wreck like the wreck she made of me.
    And all she wore was a great big island smile,
    My Little Bimbo down on a bamboo isle.”
    These are some of the words of an old song called “My Little Bimbo.”  I think that you’re misinterpreting these cruise stuff-ups.  They’re just part of the romance. Sure, they killed a few people and scared the pants off many others.  But clearly their intentions were good.
    Now that “The Artist” has one an Oscar, it’s clear that the 20s are back. “Bring the person you’d just love to be wrecked with…..or drown with.”  It’ll make “The Love Boat” seem like “Sound of Music.”
    Get your ukelele, Dorothy Lamour gowns and Eddie Cantor songbook. Happy times really are here
    again.  Float off with your dreamboat on a dreamboat!  
    Could be fun
    Best Wishes

    • ginidietrich

       @Leon I would pay a lot of money to have you play the ukelele, sing this song, and record it on video for all of us to watch!

  • pocojuan

    @ginidietrich A deeply dysfunctional internal corporate gestalt is a culture whose default mode is to pull up the drawbridge flood th moat

    • ginidietrich

      @pocojuan So true

      • pocojuan

        @ginidietrich Reminde of th pic I took of a large Moose, huge rack, hiding behind a vry small tree since he couldn’t see me, I didn’t exist

  • You reap what you’ve sown. If your only thought is making more money every year indefinitely and the main way is cutting costs, personnel and maintenance first, this is what you get. We’ll see the reasons for the fire as well as if every equipment was in place and working and if the personnel present were sufficiently trained. At least this time there wasn’t Schettino aboard. Better than nothing.
    There is surely something going on within the company as two incidents so near in time have surely internal reasons, unless it’s a case of bad luck. Maybe their shares, salaries and benefits will be so cut down next year to pay for damages that they’ll think better about how to run such a company. Given that they think only about money hitting their pockets is the only thing they understand and which scares them. Luckily this time there are no victims, but even in that case human beings are just numbers, or fatalities. That’s what I understand especially by how they’re handling this on the net; they just put their head in the sand and wait for the storm to go somewhere else. I guess their business is near the end. But that’s their fault. So it’s thir own business.

  • Oddly, this is probably the best time to go on a cruise on any other one. I’m betting the took Royal Carribean and the rest if the industry with them, and that the others are fighting back with sales. Those poor people stuck over there.

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  • ginidietrich

    @3HatsComm When the fit hits the shan. LOL

    • 3HatsComm

      @ginidietrich 🙂

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  • ginidietrich

    @MargieClayman I don’t get it. At all

    • MargieClayman

      @ginidietrich kind of flies in the face of that whole “Failure is great for learning” thang.

      • ginidietrich

        @MargieClayman Right??

  • ginidietrich

    @HowellMarketing LOL!!

  • MZazeela

    @MargieClayman @ginidietrich Sadly this is not surprising. My experience big co’s think about 3 things $$, shareholders customers. In order.

    • ginidietrich

      @MZazeela Too bad…because $$ doesn’t come without customers

  • CathyGuminaOdom

    Just came back yesterday after dumping 6 grand. Am I livid? You bet.

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