Carnival Cruise Line is a Sinking Ship

Carnival is the Walmart of the cruise line industry. You will leave each trip with extra money in your pocket, but don’t expect to have your expectations exceeded.

“You get what you pay for” comes to mind when hearing about another problem aboard a Carnival ship. The cruise line can’t escape negative headlines, from flooded cabins and stranded ships to nonstop environmental violations dating back to the 1990s.

The Carnival Corporation recently agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $20 million for environmental violations such as dumping plastic waste into the ocean. It’s paid millions more for other vessel pollution penalties and plead guilty to seven felony charges for violations on five ships starting as early as 2005.

Herein lies the real problem. For a company that relies on the ocean to operate, you’d expect Carnival to fully comply with environmental laws without being forced. It’s been years and the company continues to trash the ocean and its reputation, whatever is left of it.

Paid fines and empty promises from its CEO will not be enough to regain the trust and goodwill it never really had with the public. If Carnival has any interest in turning its public image around, I suggest these steps be taken immediately:

  1. Hold top executives accountable. Whether it’s forced resignations or outright firings, people need to trust leadership and the steps they’re taking to ensure these egregious environmental practices stop. It starts at the top.
  2. Be transparent with regulators and the public on compliance plans, audits and changes the company is making to practice better environmental stewardship. Hold press conferences, post frequent social media updates and focus on environmental messaging. Highlighting destinations and boat amenities is important to attract customers, but don’t shy away from difficult topics. Years of mistakes can be mitigated with a thoughtful approach and honest communication across digital platforms. There’s no more room under the rug. Stop sweeping.
  3. Donate millions to environmental groups. Corporate social responsibility is essential, especially for a company that relies on the environment to exist. Carnival generated over 18 billion in revenues last year. Provide financial support to private companies, government organizations and non-profits working together to clean up oceans and protect marine life.
  4. Change the entire culture that persists at Carnival. From top to bottom, encourage employees to report violations which hopefully results in better practices. Foster a new culture on every Carnival ship that focuses on environmental stewardship. This company is not on a sustainable path. Public opinion is in the toilet and it won’t change if they continue to throw money at problems that could be fixed with more care and common sense.
  5. Let Carnival self destruct because it refuses to adapt in a world that is more environmentally conscious than it’s ever been.

It won’t be an easy road for Carnival. Proactive companies and leaders establish good business practices early on so their brand isn’t impacted even when problems arise. Brand loyalty remains strong even if mistakes are made, and they always are.

Carnival may be the largest cruise line in the world, but no company is immune to the power of public opinion. It can leverage its market share to remain in business, but it won’t survive long-term if it neglects the one natural resource keeping it afloat.

Is it too late for Carnival to fix its public image? Is the brand a sinking ship? Let me know in the comments.


Trashtag Challenge Sets Bar High for Viral Social Media Trends

Viral trends come and go quickly on social media. Their shelf lives are short because most lack the staying power to keep a goal, dream or idea alive. Planking, the Mannequin Challenge, and the Harlem Shake are a few that come to mind, but sadly each fizzled out to be replaced by a new flavor of the week. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took off in 2014 and is another viral sensation that was hugely popular and successful. It helped raise awareness and donations to support the ALS community, with more than 17 million people uploading their challenge videos to Facebook.

The latest trend breaking the internet is the Trashtag Challenge, which first hit Facebook in early March and has spread like wildfire over the past month. The original post is below. The challenge is captivating people all over the world and inspiring the masses to clean up their communities and share photos of cleanup efforts across social media.

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While other online trends lose steam in a few weeks or months, the Trashtag Challenge is still going strong with no signs of slowing. I see daily high traffic posts on Reddit showing people participating in the challenge. This post hit the front page a few days ago and has over 100,000 upvotes with a lot of discussion and engagement. It’s encouraging to see because the challenge is only a month in and social media is still buzzing about it. Attention spans are short online. If the cause is important enough, people will do all they can to keep it growing and thriving.

This social media movement is remarkably different from others we’ve seen in recent years. It involves a topic of universal importance. The environment and its long term health is a shared concern for all. Combine this with social media and there’s power in numbers to cause widespread changes in sentiment and behavior. If the challenge helps raise awareness and encourages people to get involved, that alone is a worthy accomplishment.

“As promised, just finished our 2nd #trashtag challenge. Every little action can have a huge impact, don’t let this challenge die!” – u/goitegi via Reddit

The success of this challenge is also tied to our personal needs to feel admired, appreciated and recognized on social media. People care about the environment, but they also don’t want to see their efforts go unnoticed. It feels good to share something positive that you’re doing, even something as small as collecting a few bags of trash in your neighborhood. One simple post created a ripple effect that has reached communities around the globe. It doesn’t matter what country you live in or what your beliefs are. This call to action is one we can all get behind.

Another important point is people sometimes don’t want to put in a ton of effort or make big commitments. We lead busy lives. It’s better to set low expectations and let people gauge their own involvement. If we can donate money online or share a post promoting a cause we support, that might be the extent of activism for most. The Trashtag Challenge is so incredibly easy and effortless to participate in. Anyone with a phone, internet connection and a little spare time can pick up trash near their home, school or workplace and share photos with a hashtag. Devote the time you want, when you want for any reason at all. As long as you’re involved it makes no difference.

The Trashtag Challenge has the potential to remain relevant on social media for years to come. It breaks the mold of your typical viral social media trend. There’s a strong desire to help the environment, people are motivated from seeing content shared by others and there’s an immediacy to this issue that is palpable. It’s been a continuous cycle of optimism and activism made possible by social networks and their unique ability to connect people and ideas on this beautiful planet we all share.

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