In mid-February, an engine room fire onboard the Carnival Cruises ship Triumph left more than 4,000 passengers stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, with no hot water and few working toilets.
A month later, just as the incident was fading from the public eye, the diesel generator in the Carnival Dream malfunctioned, while the ship was at port, and passengers were flown home.
The next week, Carnival Legend had a technical issue with its sailing speed, and was sent back to its destination in Tampa, canceling a scheduled stop.
This recent string of public relations disasters is not a new phenomenon for Carnival: Its first ship ran aground on a sandbar on its inaugural voyage. There have been fires on four ships since 1998.
The Costa Concordia, operated by a Carnival subsidiary, struck a reef of the coast of Italy in January 2012, killing 32 people.
But despite its checkered past, the increased cost of maintaining its aging fleet, and the need to cut prices to draw customers put off by recent fires and strandings, Carnival’s bottom line has not badly suffered.
In fact, its quarterly earnings and revenue just beat market expectations, and Carnival executives say bookings have already bounced back in the wake of the heavily publicized Triumph disaster.
Problems started early for Carnival: The TSS Mardi Gras, its first cruise ship, ran aground on a sandbar during its inaugural voyage, in 1972.
Everything was fine until July 1998, when a fire started in the main laundry room of the Ecstasy, soon after the ship left Miami.
A fleet of tugboats fought the fire and pulled the ship to shore, but not before 8 passengers and 14 crew members were injured.