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Carnival Cruise Lines: Fire Aboard a Stranded Cruise Ship

Cramer, R., De Lemos, S., Divel, L., and O’Rourke, J.S. (Editor)
February 12, 2018
North America
Strategy & General Management
13 pages
fire, crisis management, management, safety, crisis
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.82)
Average rating: 

In the early morning hours of November 8, 2010, a fire broke out in the aft engine room of the Carnival Splendor, a passenger cruise ship carrying more than 3,000 guests. Although the fire was quickly suppressed, Cruise Director John Heald and the ship’s crew found themselves stranded in the Pacific Ocean, 200 miles south of San Diego. With no electricity, poor sanitation, and spoiling food supplies, Carnival Cruise Lines must determine how best to manage this unforeseen event and ensure the safety of those onboard. This crisis management case exposes the reader to the decision-making and communication challenges faced by senior leaders in the tumultuous environment following such a crisis.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. To encourage discussion regarding the importance of communication accuracy during a crisis situation in which human lives may be at stake;
  2. To highlight how a company’s lack of preparation and reliance on other entities affects reputation and credibility;
  3. To demonstrate the importance of two-way customer engagement through communication efforts;
  4. To provide an example of how an entertainment company suffers reputation damage as a result of not delivering on brand promise;
  5. To encourage discussion regarding the steps a company must take to rebuild and repair its reputation.





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