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For the Truth About Cruise Crime, Look Closely at the Numbers

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In the last 2 to 3 years, 237 alleged crimes took place on Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. This is the first time that the cruise industry has ever publicly posted their onboard crime statistics. And the numbers are quite revealing if you can effectively interpret them.

To make sense of these figures, keep in mind that the population of cruises, with passenger and crew is equivalent to the population of a small U.S. town, but there is no police presence on board. Instead, cruises operate with a few security officers, or in some cases a sole security officer employed by the ship. Until recently, the cruise lines only reported criminal cases that were closed by the FBI. Following pressure by Congress, the cruise lines released numbers, but information is still unknown for smaller companies. Senator Rockefeller’s proposed legislation would force ALL cruise lines to report.

Additionally, questions remain about the actual reporting of the crimes themselves: How are the crimes reported? When are the crimes reported? Where is the mechanism for followup action?

The cruise lines are also not reporting ALL crimes reported to them. The statistics only include serious crimes–homicide, suspicious deaths, missing US nationals, kidnapping, assault, rape, and thefts greater than $10,000. This number does not account for any cameras, iPads and laptops lifted from cruise passengers.

The cruise lines are also reporting crime based on their fleet, but not broken out by individual ship or itinerary. That’s like saying, for example, Sheraton hotel chain only had ten deaths of guests last year, but not revealing that nine of them occurred in one particular hotel. As it stands now cruise passengers have no real or effective way to interpret the data to be able to make informed decisions about which cruise ship, or which itinerary they want.

But there is some good news, in all fairness to the cruise lines, the numbers they have reported – compared to rates of serious crimes on land — is very small.

Watch Peter’s CBS This Morning report to find out what these crime statistics mean for your next cruise vacation.

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