MIAMI: Executives at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) were looking to
hire three PR people, including someone to head the office, when the
company was plunged into crisis last week.
The cruise ship Norway and her 2,032 passengers were prevented from
leaving the Port of Miami for a planned seven-day cruise when US Coast
Guard (USCG) inspectors realized the ship sprinkler system was poorly
patched and possibly too damaged to extinguish a fire.
NCL's sole in-house PR staffer, PR manager Mirta Carreras, turned to the
NCL crisis plan and to NCL agency of record, New York-based Lou Hammond
Carreras said she kept passengers informed of USCG decisions via
newsletter, instituted a complimentary open bar and gave each passenger
a dollars 200 credit to use on the ship, with a dollars 600 maximum per
stateroom. When the ship was held in port the following day, the credit
was upped to dollars 300 per person - dollars 900 per stateroom.
"We also kept our full list of activities on the ship, as well as
excursions all around the city," said Carreras. "On the first day, 1,500
of our guests took tours. With 2,000 people on the ship, that's pretty
When NCL learned the ship would not be able to sail at all, the company
set up eight checkpoints at the Port of Miami to help passengers make
travel plans. Carreras said NCL will reimburse customers for their
return airfare, travel expenses, and the cost of the cruise, and will
also give customers vouchers for a cruise of equal value to the one they
Passengers were invited to stay on the Norway all week and enjoy ship
activities free of charge.
Carreras said Lou Hammond and Associates handled or filtered most of the
"We've gotten great feedback from all the TV crews that were out there,"
said Carreras. "Of course our passengers are disappointed, and you can't
blame them for that. But I think most of them are satisfied with our
compensation, and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing
- satisfied customers."