Come Hell or High Water – Part 2

Posted on Jun 8, 2013 | Comments Off on Come Hell or High Water – Part 2

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A survey of US consumer attitudes about cruising shows sentiment has not bounced back following the Carnival Triumph incident (the infamous “poop cruise”) but has continued to decline, with lower scores on trust, quality and intent to purchase.

Harris Interactive surveyed 2,052 adults online between May 14 and 16, prior to Grandeur of the Seas’ fire.

The average perceived quality score across the seven major brands tested is down 13% since before the Carnival Triumph incident in February and 6% compared to the Harris Poll’s post incident wave of testing in late February. While Carnival Cruises Lines’ quality score showed the steepest declines (down 28% versus pre and 12% versus post), all the other brands tested ranged individually from 8%-11% below pre levels.

The average trust score across the seven brands is also down compared to both pre (down 12%) and post (down 5%) incident; as with quality, trust showed the steepest decline for Carnival (down 26% versus pre, 11% versus post). However, the six other brands tested remain between 8%-12% below pre incident trust levels.

Intent to purchase has declined, on average, 11% from its pre incident level (and 5% from its post incident level). While this affected most of the brands tested (with most down between 7%-15% versus pre levels), Harris noted that Holland America Line’s purchase intent score has largely weathered this perceptual storm, holding at just 2% below its pre level. Carnival was hardest hit, down 20% versus pre, 8% versus post.

One-third of Americans (32%) agreed that cruises are ‘worry-free,’ down slightly from 35% in February, with past cruise experience appearing to have a considerable impact on this perception: those who have cruised (51%) are more than twice as likely to agree that cruises are ‘worry free’ as those who have not (22%).

‘When we first addressed this topic in March [when results from the February survey were announced], even we were open to the idea that a “recency bias” of sorts might be impacting the results so soon after the Triumph fiasco, creating a low tide for the industry as a whole,’ said Harris Poll Insights vp Deana Percassi. ‘But these more recent findings, coupled with reports of heavily discounted pricing on Carnival cruises, indicate that the industry as a whole, as well as the Carnival brand specifically, may still be facing rough seas.’

Reporting of the ongoing legal proceedings over the Costa sinking and the fire on board the Grandeur of the Seas is likely to show a similar decline in trust in cruising worldwide.

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