BrandIndex scores for the cruise line sector suffered due to a couple of incidents which occurred in late 2010 involving cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines, with recovery for the sector only beginning after the New Year.
On November 9 2010, Carnival Cruise Line’s ship, the Carnival Splendor, was 200 miles south of San Diego, California when an engine room fire cut the ship’s power. There were no casualties and the fire was extinguished, but the misfortunate incident left the Carnival Splendor with no air-conditioning, phone service or hot water. The cruise ship had to be towed slowly for more than a day into a Mexican port, with all 4,500 passengers aboard. The incident sent Carnival Cruise Lines’ Buzz into a sharp tailspin, sending scores down from 43.1 to -48.2 by early December.
During this time, cruise line sector leader Royal Caribbean International was flying high with the introduction of its Allure of the Seas cruise ship, featuring the DreamWorks experience and coffee chain Starbucks on board. The ship also managed to make an appearance on NBC's ‘Today’ show. However, in mid-December, Allure of the Seas made US national news when the cruise ship was battered by huge storms in the eastern Mediterranean, throwing passengers and furniture around. Royal Caribbean’s Buzz score plummeted from 66.1 in early November to 6.7 a month later.
Fortunately, both cruise lines have made perception recoveries in time for the start of the annual January cruise season with scores back up to nearly normal levels. Royal Caribbean International is back up to 53.2, and Carnival is at 23.9. Carnival’s rise in Buzz could also be powered by a new campaign from Arnold Worldwide with the tagline ‘Hey America, Didja Ever?’.