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Media coverage of Carnival Cruise Line’s cruise ship problems has been extensive.

This week, it’s Carnival Legend, which developed sailing speed technical problems. Within the last month, it was Carnival Dream with lost power and stopped toilets and Carnival Elation with steering system breakdowns. Worse, Carnival Triumph, a 4-turned-8-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico, garnered wall-to-wall coverage as 4200 passengers were slowly tugged and towed to Alabama. They reputedly endured stopped toilets, sewage on floors and walls, low-to-no-to-bad food, stuffy stinky staterooms, and a lot more.  But they came ashore alive and relatively well.

Far worse, January 13, 2012, Costa Concordia ran aground at Isla dl Giglio, Tuscany, Italy with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew aboard. Some 32 people died, 2 are still missing and presumed dead, and 64 more were injured. Costa Concordia is owned by Costa Cruise, which is in turn controlled by, you guessed it, Carnival Corporation.

Certainly the Costa Concordia disaster was a catastrophe in the sense that people lost their lives and others were hurt. What’s most disturbing about this episode is that it all seems, even now after months of investigation, so unnecessary. In my estimation, Captain Francesco Schettino is guilty of criminal negligence, dereliction of duty, and an assortment of other crimes rooted in his incredibly unprofessional and inept leadership, or I should say the lack thereof. His actions and inactions contributed to if not caused the grounding. On top of that, he abandoned his ship. He and other top crew members are facing indictments, trials, and possible prison terms.

Aside, though, from the clearly tragic Costa Concordia incident, the rest of Carnival Cruise’s problems should be characterized more as corporate managerial challenges than as bona fide catastrophes. Yet media dutifully portray each cruise ship incident as unbearable pain for the passengers.

With due respect to the older folks caught in these ship snafus and with due concern for children who might have been scared, Carnival’s cruse ship problems are not that significant. Certainly not the end-of-the-world scenarios played out in media. People were discomforted and annoyed, but they still had something to eat, were not in life-threatening situations, and were soon headed home.

Put these cruise “catastrophes” alongside a host of other more dangerous situations around the world and they just don’t measure up.

People are living in the midst of civil war (Syria), in refugee camps (Lebanon), under oppressive dictatorships (North Korea), and in impoverished environments (Haiti). These people are suffering. These circumstances, not cruise ships with broken generators, rank as human catastrophes worthy of media attention.

So let us continue our concern and care for the people harmed by Costa Concordia, and let us keep the rest of the incidents in perspective.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2013

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