USA TODAY - America's trust in cruise lines has continued to drop in the months since the Carnival Triumph fire, a Harris poll released this week suggests.
The survey of 2,052 U.S. adults, which took place between May 14 and 16, found an additional 5% decline in a measurement of America's trust in cruise lines from the low levels hit in February just after the much-publicized incident.
As compared to levels before the incident, the measurement of America's trust in cruise lines is now down 12%.
The poll results suggest the industry's reputation has been hurt more by the Carnival Triumph fire than industry watchers initially expected. In the days after the incident, many analysts at Wall Street firms and other industry observers predicted that any impact on the traveling public would be short-lived.
The poll also suggests Carnival continues to be impacted far more than its rivals by the incident. It found an additional 11% decline in the measurement of trust in Carnival over the past three months, on top of a sharp drop after the incident. As compared to levels before the incident, the measurement of trust in Carnival is now down 26%.
Measurements of trust in rival lines including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Holland America also remain down, though not as sharply.
The perception of quality at brands such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian also continues to be down significantly in the wake of the incident, according to the Harris poll. A measurement of America's perception of quality at Carnival is now down 28% from before the incident, according to the poll.
Carnival also has suffered a 20% decline in a measurement of purchase intent in the Harris poll.
Perhaps more significantly, the poll suggests that newcomers to cruising continue to be put off by the incident. Harris says 56% of respondents who had never taken a cruise said they were less likely to take one now than they were a year ago.
The Feb. 10 fire in an engine room of the Carnival Triumph left the ship dead in the water in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to a lack of propulsion, the ship was without power for essential services such as food preparation and, for a time, running water. Toilets stopped working, as did air conditioning and lighting. The vessel eventually was towed to Mobile, Ala., but not before passengers had to spend four days on board in what was described as miserable conditions.