Arnold Donald, the CEO of the world’s largest cruise line, thinks his industry is getting a bad coronavirus rap. COVID-19 hotspots on seven of his now shut-down Carnival cruise ships have left 39 dead. But Donald has been busy insisting that “a cruise ship is not a riskier environment.” His vessels, says Donald, more resemble Central Park: “There’s a lot of natural social distancing.”
Public health experts disagree. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report has concluded that a “closed environment, contact between travelers from many countries, and crew transfers between ships” makes ocean merriment like Carnival’s a predictable setting for “outbreaks of infectious diseases.” Donald himself is predicting that Carnival will come back bigger than ever at the end of June, since “people love cruising.” For CEOs, cruise ships are certainly rewarding. Donald was paid $11.1 million last year, 723 times the take-home of Carnival’s typical employee. His CEO predecessor, Micky Arison, has a personal fortune of $8.1-billion.
My comment: Once upon a time I was offered a contract as a singer with a band on a cruise ship. The look on the face of my mother-in- law-to- be quickly disabused me of the wisdom of the idea!
In those days you had smaller ships and companies like Swan Hellenic, which stressed the history and culture of the ports visited. The experience was educational. Now the cruise ships, especially those operated by Carnival are gigantic, the food tables groan, passengers eat far too much with too little exercise, and the visits to ports mainly involve the sale of tawdry souvenirs (meals are all on the ships) and do little for the locals. What the ship do is to pour muck into the oceans and despoil the environment (poor Venice!). Many people in ports were up in arms well before the virus struck. I might still be a singer on one of those monsters – shudder!