A new cruise catastrophe is making headlines: a 10-day Royal Caribbean cruise ship had to cut a trip short due to an outbreak of a stomach bug on board, afflicting more than 600 people on the ship with symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. It wasn't a totally crappy situation for Royal Caribbean (RCL) though -- the stock was up close to 3% Monday morning on better than expected earnings.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCHL) was in New York Monday ringing the bell at the Nasdaq to celebrate the one year anniversary of its IPO -- shares have risen more than 40% since the third-largest cruise company went public, beating shares of competitors like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation (CCL).
The company is also in New York celebrating its new cruise ship, the Norweigan Getaway, which is docked in town for the Super Bowl and undergoing a transformation to what's being called the "Bud Light Hotel."
"As the smaller of the three big players in the industry we have to be a little bit more tactical and smart about how we get our brand in front of the consumer, and get the reach and frequency we require," Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan tells us in the video above. This was a "magical opportunity to align with a great partner and use our ship to showcase to so many people...our brand."
While Super Bowl parties on a cruise ship are all good and fun, when it comes to taking a cruise, how concerned should passengers be about mishaps? Last year, Carnival's fire on the Triumph left thousands stuck on the ship without working toilets and electricity, with reports of raw sewage in the hallways...it become known as the "poop cruise."
When it comes to outbreaks of stomach bugs like the one reported on the Royal Caribbean cruise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nine similar cases last year.
Earlier this month, the CDC reported a similar outbreak on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Health officers and an epidemiologist boarded the Norwegian Star on Jan. 19 in Miami after an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea afflicted 130 passengers and 12 crew members during a voyage from Jan. 5 thru Jan. 19.
"We haven't had an incident in all the years...I've been with the company," Sheehan tells us in the video above (he's been CEO since 2008). "So I'm not sure where that information is coming from. We have a best in class protocol on sanitation and cleanliness and we're very proud of that."
When it comes to the safety and sanitation issues that have plagued some other cruise liners, Sheehan says, "we have not had incidents of any sort on our ships and we're very proud of our record."
We reached out to the company for clarification on the discrepency between the CDC report of the illness outbreak and Sheehan's comments.
We reached out to the company for clarification on the discrepancy between the CDC report of the illness outbreak and Sheehan's comments. AnneMarie Mathews, vice president of public relations, later told us that Sheehan meant Norwegian Cruise Line hasn't "had an issue to the extent that Royal Caribbean has had." She said the problem that the CDC had reported "was very minor" and the cruise line has "strict sanitation protocols in place to keep our ships clean."
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