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What Carnival Did Right

By now, everyone has heard about the troubles aboard the Carnival Splendor, which had an onboard fire and was disabled for three days at sea during a voyage this month.  But Carnival Corporation followed this nightmarish scenario with one of the best examples of service recovery. Most cruise consulting companies would probably agree that its response to the crisis sets an example that other hospitality companies can follow.

As this Cruise Critic article notes, Carnival placed its cruise guest satisfaction at the forefront while also thinking about its crew and future guests when it responded to the crisis.  First, the onboard response was professional, quick and calm - not an easy feat on a ship carrying 3,000-plus guests without hot water or hot food for a few days.  Bars provided complimentary beverages and the staff came up with no-power-required entertainment, like trivia contests and dance classes.  If the biggest complaints among passengers were cold showers and eating SPAM, that’s a testament to a capable, professional crew, and it speaks to solid customer service training.

Carnival immediately said it would issue full refunds and a complimentary future cruise.  And as soon as Carnival knew where and when the ship would disembark passengers, it made arrangements to transport them to the originating port of Long Beach at no cost.  It made sure that cruise passengers would be able to get home by providing hotel accommodations, grand transportation, and flights. Carnival CEO, Gerry Cahill, flew to San Diego personally, to greet and apologize to passengers.  This demonstrated that the company cared and was committed to ‘righting’ the situation.

It’s no wonder that, amid all the press focusing on the ship’s hardships, it was hard to find any criticism of Carnival’s service recovery.