For the third time in less than a year and half, Carnival Cruise Lines is once again in the hot seat related to problems on one of its cruise ships. Considering the company’s recent track record, Carnival’s crisis PR team hopefully now has a solid communications emergency plan in place to effectively manage the company’s damage control efforts.

The latest problems began on Wednesday, when the Carnival Dream reportedly suffered a generator failure while docked in St. Maarten. Despite the loss of power and problems with the toilet system, the 4,300 guests on board were not allowed to depart the vessel for several hours. Multiple passengers contacted CNN and other media, reporting wretched conditions on-board.

Carnival issued a statement on Thursday, disclaiming many of the passenger criticisms and announcing its plan to fly all guests back to the United States aboard charter flights and to issue refunds. The company also made itself accessible to media, providing a number of updates via its social media channels.

It will be interesting to see how the troubled cruise line navigates its latest PR crisis and what the incident means for Carnival’s reputation long-term.  While Carnival’s crisis PR response to the Costa Concordia tragedy was dismal, it did show improvement in its handling of the Trimph crisis, as noted here on the Red Banyan Blog.