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After the government bailed out airlines and hotels, they left out Cruises for good reason. However, a new extensive report shines light on how Carnival mishandled the spread of Coronavirus on board.

Early Warnings

This report by Bloomberg paints a grim picture of how Carnival mishandled the situation as Coronavirus spread on board. It also highlights passenger plight on board.

Of the first 46 crew and passengers who were tested for the virus, 21 were positive. President Trump suggested they should be prevented from disembarking. Trump implied that the vessel’s caseload would make it look like the U.S. was doing a poor job of handling the pandemic. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship,” he said.

CEO Arnold Donald’s response wasn’t the most encouraging.

“Each ship is a mini-city,” he says, and Carnival’s response shouldn’t be condemned before “analyzing what New York did to deal with the crisis, what the vice president’s task force did, what the Italians, Chinese, South Koreans, and Japanese did. We’re a small part of the real story. We’re being pulled along by it.

If you buy his argument, you also can say that governments that have mishandled the crisis are being criticized. In the same way, shouldn’t Carnival’s CEO also take full responsibility?

CDC’s Assessment

Cindy Friedman is the chief epidemiologist who leads the CDC’s cruise ship task force. She looks at the whole scenario in a much different way. According to her, many Carnival ships hadn’t started sailing before the company got to know about the risk. In spite of that, they proceeded.

Maybe that excuse flies after the Diamond Princess, or maybe after the Grand Princess. I have a hard time believing they’re just a victim of happenstance. Nobody should be going on cruise ships during this pandemic, full stop.


The report elaborates further about a slew of lawsuits that followed. Also, this wasn’t Carnival’s first brush with the law.

Australian police have launched a criminal probe into whether the company’s Princess Cruises subsidiary misled authorities about an outbreak aboard a ship docked in Sydney, and its Costa Cruises subsidiary is facing multiple passenger lawsuits regarding its Covid-19 response.

In 2017 the U.S. Department of Justice fined Carnival’s Princess line a record $40 million for dumping oil-contaminated waste at sea and falsifying official discharge records to cover it up. Last June, (CEO) Donald himself entered a guilty plea on behalf of Carnival for violating the terms of its settlement after authorities discovered that its ships kept on dumping even after the 2017 ruling.

The Pundit’s Mantra

The travel industry is already reeling. The cruise industry is a massive and complex large scale operation. While one can understand how difficult the situation may have been, the buck stops with the top leadership at Carnival.

Given the media coverage of cruises off late, the future looks grim for the cruise industry. Also, cruise lines have often been accused as playing fast and loose with the law. They incorporate their companies abroad, but still to ask for a US government bailout.

What do you think about the way Carnival handled the onboard Coronavirus outbreak? Was it simply a lack of preparedness, negligence or malpractice? Tell us in the comments section.


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