MIAMI -- Agents reacting to the Ecstasy fire said they felt
Carnival had handled the incident well and did not expect an impact
on cruise bookings.
But Marilyn Wexler, leisure manager for Direct Travel in Boston,
said she expects clients to ask more questions about how ships
handle fire emergencies. "I don't think it's going to stop most
people. ... You can be sleeping in your house and fire and
lightning can strike," Wexler said. "It's not a positive news
story, but I don't think it will have an impact."
Jay Caulk, group manager for Peter Berlin Travel in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., said he feels that the Coast Guard might have
been slow to respond but that the fire won't leave any "scars or
black marks" on the industry. "Look what happened with 'Titanic.'
The movie came out and bookings went [through the roof]," Caulk
said. "This is a very isolated, unfortunate but a [manageable]
Jim Godsman, president of Cruise Lines International
Association, the industry marketing group, said the cruise industry
has an "outstanding" record in terms of safety, and this incident
is no exception. "The observations made about how the ship's crew
responded quickly ... and resolved the problem says a lot about
professionalism and safety," Godsman said. "We will not have impact
on bookings. This will be viewed as an incident. Accidents do
happen in any business, the question becomes how quickly do you
respond to them and resolve them."
Days before the Ecstasy incident, coincidentally, Kathryn
Sudeikis, ASTA director of Area 8, asked Carnival president Bob
Dickinson about the industry's fire preparedness efforts. The
exchange came at the ASTA South Florida Chapter meeting when
Sudeikis asked Dickinson to respond to a report that had aired on
NBC that looked at the issue of cruise ship fire safety. At the
time, Dickinson declined to comment, saying to do so "would give
the story legs."
Read the official Carnival Corp. press