Surviving the Carnival Splendor


Anyone reading a newspaper or watching the news on TV last week, no doubt read about the unfortunate fire that a cruise ship had off the Mexican coast last week.  My family and I were some of the 4500 people on board for a cruise I will never forget.

This was the 31st cruise I have been on (yes I love cruise vacations) and it was not the expected treat.  Day one was pleasant enough, but waking at 6:00am to a fire in the engine room was the beginning of a down hill slide.

What was noted throughout the ship by the 3000+ passengers where the 1500+ staff and crew, and how positive they remained and how much their team spirit held things together.  Without much power, there was little being done the way it normally is week in and week out.  Everyone had to think outside the box.

I credit these results to good management, but not necessarily good leadership.  Let me tell you why.

Management skills are what we use when we are working with individuals through performance expectations, coaching and feedback.  This was evident in the way everyone was responding to our situation.

Management skills were evident from the officers sailing the ship because everything worked well and had been practiced enough that everyone knew their job.  Of course the real difference is the military code of enforcement, and people do what the Captain tells them to without questions.

Now Leadership skills, which include vision and strategic planning, were not as evident as everyone was scrambling to figure out contingency plans for taking care of the passengers.  Even the Chef was way out of his comfort zone trying to figure out how to feed people using only cold or dry food.  How hard would an alternate food menu be to have on hand?

We survived, and no one was injured.  I thank God, everyone on board, the US Coast Guard and US Navy for coming to our rescue.

I will sail again, but I hope that all cruise lines increase their attention on Leadership Skill Development.  A little more vision, and a lot more Strategy Planning needs to be in place soon!

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