Floating at Sea: Carnival Triumph and Crisis Communications

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that the Carnival Triumph is currently floating about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula after an engine fire left them without propulsion and running on emergency power.

Ok, now that you are up to speed, let’s look at their crisis communications at work.

This situation is easily one that Carnival could have attempted to sweep under the rug, it wouldn’t have worked, but they could have tried. Instead, they are not only being transparent about the situation, but they are actively talking about it. Color me impressed!

carnival web site
Carnival Triumph button and question and answer page

A ship floating at sea is a big problem when you’re a cruise line, but by actively talking about the situation, and the steps they are going through to ensure their guests and crews’ safety, they are sending a clear message to past and present customers. “You matter, and while the situation isn’t the vacation you planned, we’re not forgetting about you and we’ll fix this to the best of our ability.” What more can you ask for from a company?


Right on the homepage is a yellow button with the words, “Carnival Triumph,” which links to official information on the original incident, an update to the incident, and an information on upcoming voyages that are now canceled and compensation. Again, they’re not hiding this. It’s right at the top of the page. Since writing this, the page has been updated with a statement from their CEO.

Social Media

carnival facebook
Carnival statement on Facebook

I actually found out about the Carnival Triumph from social media, and it wasn’t someone saying, “Go look at how they’re messing up their social response.” I found out from the source, from Carnival on Facebook. I read the whole post, which is quite long, but it put out the facts and needed information. In fact, I didn’t feel the need to read about the situation from another news source. If you know me, you know this never happens. I always want to know more, and I love to Google. Carnival, however, told me enough information that I felt I knew the facts. They’ve continued to post on both Facebook and Twitter, and have only posted information about the Carnival Triumph since the situation started. In fact, they just updated further with new information about taking the ship to Mobile, Ala., instead of Progreso, Mexico, and why they are doing so.


Carnival Twitter feed
Carnival Twitter feed

There are some lessons for crisis communicators and social media managers to learn here. First, be as open and honest as you can. There are situations when all the facts just can’t be told, but being proactive and releasing information when it’s appropriate is definitely the way to go.

Second, social media can be your enemy or your friend. We’ve all seen tons of examples of what not to do in a crisis situation on social media. While Carnival is definitely getting its fair share of negative comments, there are also plenty of positive ones in there, too. By talking to their audiences, they aren’t being attacked for not saying anything, or for saying it all wrong.

Third, continue to update. One and done is not the way here. As the situation evolves, Carnival continues to let people know on all channels what the current status is.

Their only faux pas? It seems they’ve started copying and pasting their latest statement to some commenters on their Facebook wall. If they showed a little compassion here, and just let people know they understand, and are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the guests and crew members onboard, it would probably be better received. That is, as long as they don’t start copying and pasting that, too.

What do you think of Carnival’s response to their floating at sea cruise ship? Good or bad? Is there something you think they could be doing better?


Retweet After Me: Week of Feb. 5, 2013

This week’s resources include, planning your web presences for a crisis, some Facebook and LinkedIn tips, and fake Twitter followers and what we should do as brands.

Are You Ready? Web Operation Planning for Crisis Situations by by Matt Herzberger

April 17, 2007 – What is the significance of this date? Probably the most important date in the history of university crisis management planning. In case you are still unsure, April 17, 2007 was one day after the Virginia Tech shooting. It was a day that most universities’ communication vehicles were woefully unequipped to deal with crisis situations. [ Read More ]

New LinkedIn Profile Changes Made Easy by Marla Tabaka

Last week I received an e-mail saying that my new LinkedIn profile was ready for updates. Rolling my eyes I thought, really? Didn’t we just do this? Meeting yet another profile change with resistance was obviously my first reaction, but, truthfully, this time LinkedIn did most of the work for us. [ Read More ]

Millennials Up Their Time Online

Online Americans spent slightly more than one day a week online last year, increasing their average online time by 3 hours to 26 hours, per results from a WSL/Strategic Retail study. Though the amount of time spent online was relatively consistent among age groups, Millennials (16-34) markedly increased their average internet consumption from the previous year, up 25% to 25 hours a week. Gen Xers (35-46) and Boomers (47-65) increased their average time to 26 and 27 hours per week, respectively, while Seniors (66+) held steady at 25 hours. [ Read More ]

A Facebook cheat sheet for brands by Michael Sebastian

Many companies are rushing to try and jump into social media because they feel tremendous pressure to prevent being left behind. Most of us have moved past the need to make a business case for social media and into the era of “needing” social media as part of our overall marketing mix. The statistics on social media adoption are astounding. A recent study found that over 90% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business. This is a drastic shift from where we were even just a short 2 years ago. In the same study, more than half of the respondents had less than 1 year of experience in social media. [ Read More ]

Should brands worry about fake Twitter followers? by Isra Garcia

I recently received a list that included the “top fake artists” who bought followers on Twitter. It included many widely known electronic music DJs with their stage names and Twitter accounts.[ Read More ]