Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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B M & T ••• September/October 2014••• 36 am. After some delays and being taken to the wrong studio, he was finally poised to start the remote interview. "There's no monitor, just a camera and a chair, and some fake set behind me. So I can't see anything. They stick this thing in my ear and then they say "Only two minutes." Through his earpiece Donald hears an announcer say "CEO Micky Aronson booted and replaced after all these disasters." Some puff piece, he thinks to himself as he braces for the interview to begin. So the first question was "'Arnold Donald, the new CEO, what's wrong with Carnival and how are you going to fix it?' It's like ask- ing when are you going to stop beating your wife? So I said 'First of all there's a lot right about Carnival,' and I made them laugh, and then it was fun, and it worked out. But that's what we were facing. There was so much negativism, they just assumed negative stuff." According to Donald, all Carnival ships, and those of their competitors for that matter, sail with 60-80 percent of people who have cruised before and are loyal to that brand. That leaves 20-40 percent of the cabins still to be filled with first time cruis- ers. So it's vitally important, he says, not to scare away these new cruisers with neg- ative misinformation before they have a chance to experience a cruse vacation. "The new cruisers, they don't know," explains Donald. "And so when the media puts out negative stuff, it reinforces those neg- ative images held by people who haven't cruised, who then say 'I'm not going to go on a cruise.'" Donald readily admits that some cruisers may get seasick, or even contract the dreaded norovirus. But this is a very rare occur- rence, and contrary to popular belie f, he says, the norovirus is not a cruise disease. According to Donald, only .007 % of cruisers got the norovirus, while on land, 6% of the US population has con- tracted the disease. Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States with an estimated 19 to 21 million cases each year, according to the CDC. That means roughly one in every 15 Americans will get norovirus annua lly, though only 56,000 to 71,000 go to the hospital for treatment. "So if you don't want the norovirus, go on a cruise ship," Donald says. "They occur way less on a cruise, but you would think you'd get it on cruse ships because of the media. That's our fault. That's not the media's fault, because we're not providing the right information. And we're not providing it the right way," he adds. While Don ald describes the cruise industry as young – it's only been around 25-30 years – and relatively small, he makes it very clear that Carnival, which boasts 10 d i f f e r e n t c r u i s e ship "In a year or two we will have 80+ million passenger cruise days in a year."

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