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Carnival’s Response to the Triumph Incident Shows Commitment to Customer Experience


Carnival Triumph

If you read my articles about business, you will get the idea that I have a pretty negative opinion of businesses and how they treat people. In most cases, you would be absolutely correct; however, occasionally a company gets it right. In these cases, I try to ensure that I point out the good as well as the bad. Today, a cruise company took a step to make me believe that some companies really care about their customers.

The Incident

Yesterday morning, Carnival Cruise Lines had an incident aboard the Carnival Triumph. The Triumph had a fire in the aft engine room while the ship was approximately 150 miles off of the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The fire was extinguished and there were no casualties to the crew or guests. However, the situation left the ship without propulsion and limited power. While initial reports were of terrible conditions on the ship, including no running water for drinking or restrooms. The technical team on the ship has worked to maintain emergency generator power and restore auxiliary power to operate some of the basic ship functions. This includes restoring the freshwater system and the sewer system to the front end of the ship. What really impresses me is the response from Carnival.

The Response

The company took the correct basic steps such as notifying the authorities who dispatched a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to escort the ship as it waits for tug boats to tow it to the nearest port in Progreso, Mexico. The guests have been provided food and refreshments including limited hot coffee and food service. The company sent the Carnival Elation to rendezvous with the Triumph and provide dinners for the guests. They have another ship, the Carnival Legend, scheduled to do the same today.


The pool deck of the Triumph where some guests were reportedly sleeping after the engine room fire.

This is where it gets good. As compensation for the issue, all guests on this cruise will be flown from Mexico to the U.S. on aircraft chartered by the cruise line. They will be refunded the full amount of their cruise, including transportation expenses. They will receive a refund of all shipboard purchases with the exception of gift shop and casino purchases. Finally, they will get a credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage that can be used towards a future cruise. This is a great way to compensate people for a serious issue occurring during their cruise. It’s particularly wonderful considering the fact that they were on their last full day of the sailing as they were scheduled to reach port today.

Not only has Carnival done everything they could to make sure that the people on the cruise are properly cared for and compensated, they are also taking care of the guests who were scheduled to sail on upcoming cruises as well. They are contacting all guests scheduled to sail on the Triumph on February 11 and February 16. These guests will receive a full refund, including a refund of any non-refundable travel expenses. All of these guests will be given a 25 percent discount on any future three to five-day cruise.

The Differentiating Factor

The reason I chose to write about this is that I am passionate about customer service, and cruising. At least, I’m as passionate as I can be on my budget. I have cruised multiple times on Carnival. I’ve always had a great experience. I even got married while on a Carnival cruise. Last year, I decided to try a Royal Caribbean cruise and regretted that decision. The food and service were both mediocre. The mediocrity of that cruise was compounded by the fact that I spent much more than I would have for a comparable Carnival cruise.

I am currently in the beginning stages of planning another cruise. Of course, I’ve considered going back to Carnival, but I was also considering looking into Disney and Norwegian. However, after how quickly Carnival responded to this situation, I can say that I will be making my reservations with Carnival. Just a few days after writing a piece about how Applebee’s had a complete public relations meltdown, I am reassured that my initial impression of Carnival was correct. They are a company that cares about the guests experience and will take appropriate action if that experience is negatively affected.

My kudos to Carnival Cruise Lines and its management. I’m impressed by your ability to respond quickly, and with the bests interests of your customers in mind. It is becoming a rarity in today’s business world. Even though I’m not personally affected by this incident, your response has gained my loyalty. I encourage anyone who is looking for a vacation to visit Carnival. I can’t think of many companies that are this committed to providing an excellent customer experience.

Update 2/12/13

The ship is now being towed to Mobile, Alabama. The ship had drifted approximately 90 miles north by the time the tug boats arrived, which made towing the ship to Mobile a more reasonable port. CEO Gerry Cahill held a press briefing this evening. More details to follow.


15 thoughts on “Carnival’s Response to the Triumph Incident Shows Commitment to Customer Experience

  1. Quality articles or reviews is the key to interest the viewers to go to see the web
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    Posted by escort | February 12, 2013, 2:02 pm
  2. What if there was proof that Carnival Cruise Lines was completely aware the ship was broken but decided to push it to its limits until it caught fire? This entire situation could have been avoided.

    Posted by Christin | February 12, 2013, 6:54 pm
    • If there is proof that this happened, I would say they have been negligent. I did read that the Triumph was delayed at a previous sailing due to mechanical issues. It’s possible that this issue is related. I would hope that issue was corrected and not poorly patched just to get underway. I will admit that there is a question of why this has happened to Carnival twice in three years. The first incident being the Carnival Splendor in 2010, which also had an engine room fire that disabled the ship. The question I would have is about where in the organization the breakdown occurred. Are these fires a result of some action or inaction on the part of the ship staff? Is there a breakdown in the chain that caused the problems? Is this an upper-management decision that forced faulty equipment to be used? Or is it simply an unfortunate coincidence that this happened again? I will reserve judgement until I see evidence that points to the answer. Until then, I find that their response to the situation has been exemplary.

      Posted by Dean Spencer | February 12, 2013, 7:12 pm
      • I completely agree that the majority of the staff has an outstanding attitude and are more than accommodating. However, as far as the mechanical issues go — I was on the 1/28 five night cruise that was supposed to go to Progreso AND Cozumel. The evening before (1/27) at 8:10pm we rec’d an email that said “on its previous cruise” the ship encountered some mechanical failures and we would only go to Progreso or Cozumel. Well, one hour after we set sail (about 5 hours late), they announced that the ship was NOT yet repaired and we would not be able to cruise fast enough to make it to our feature destination, Cozumel. They tried to make up for it with a total of $65 to our Sail&Sign accounts, but most cruisers we spoke to did not feel that was at all sufficient! We stayed in Progreso overnight. People coming out of the spa were complaining that they could hear “banging and hammering” during their massage. When it was time to leave Progreso and head back to Galveston, the tugboats hooked up… But we weren’t leaving. They made confusing announcements that didn’t make much sense over and over, each time the information was a tad bit different from the announcement before. Eventually, they came over the loud speaker and said that we are going to have to stay put until “special tools and spare parts” being flown into Merida were acquired. We left Progreso late, making us late arriving back in Galveston. We also personally sat down with Jen Baxter, Cruise Director of the Carnival Triumph, who said even after getting those additional items for the ship, it still hadn’t been repaired! They knowingly put another 3000 people or so right back on that ship and set sail the very same day we got back. They too rec’d correspondence from Carnival on 2/1, they day of their cruise mentioning mechanical issues. Very Disappointed in Carnival Cruise Lines. They might be responding to the situation ok, but again, it would have never happened had they just fixed the boat!

        Posted by Christin | February 12, 2013, 7:33 pm
    • Do you still have the email you were sent informing you of the issue? Would you be willing to forward me a copy of that email? deanspencerblog@gmail.com

      Posted by Dean Spencer | February 12, 2013, 10:26 pm
      • I took the 5-day cruise on 2/2/2013. We received a e-mail that we would not be able to board the ship until 3 P.M., because the ship was haveing propulsion problems. When we boarded the ship, from my balcony you could see that they were still working on the issue. We finally left Galveston late that evening. The next day we noticed the ship seemed to be going very slowly, then pick-up speed, this happened a couple of times. The last night of our cruise (Wednesday) the capitain said he was going to go full steam to get us back earlier then scheduled because of fog, (which there wasn’t any). However late that night we were in the comedy club, when the backend of the ship, where we were located started shaking very badly and making very weird noises, also water started coming in from the roof. It was so intense that even the comedian stopped his performance and asked what that was all about. We landed on Thursday(2/7) in Galveston, the people that are stranded are the ones that got on the ship after we were off. It seems that this was a ongoing problem for weeks that was not taken seriosly by Carnival.

        Posted by Barbara Richardson | February 13, 2013, 4:27 pm
      • Thank you for your response. Please check out this new article including the concerns you raised:


        Posted by Dean Spencer | February 15, 2013, 12:51 am
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  1. Pingback: Carnival Triumph Past Guests Raise Questions About Previous Mechanical Failures « The American Complaint Department - February 15, 2013

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