Travel News

What the Cruise Industry Isn’t Telling You: Crime Stats Explored

Following recent pressure from the Senate, the major players in the cruise industry released all crime allegations, not just those cases that were closed by the FBI. However, this bold gesture might not be as transparent as it seems. Cruise expert Ross Klein looks at how the numbers were released, what was missing and why this gesture of goodwill was lacking complete transparency.

The CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited announced July 24, 2013, at the start of hearings before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, that the three major cruise lines would begin posting at their respective website all allegations of crime on their ships. The announcement was given wide media attention as the industry promoted cruises as safer than staying at home.

After months of having its image tarnished by negative media attention, the industry wanted to reassure Americans that cruise vacations are safe. They said the disclosures were in the interest of transparency. Yes, the industry now displays crime statistics, but they are not displaying the 959 crimes documented by the FBI. In addition, the majority of crimes are categorized as “other,” so we have no idea what they are.

There are many reasons why we would want to know what is in the category of “other?” One very good reason is the need to know whether we and our children are safe.

Consider that a report released on July 24, 2013 by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee reveals that 34 percent of sexual assault victims on cruise ships in 2012 were minors. Wouldn’t parents like to know on what ships sexual assault of children is more prevalent?

But it isn’t just the label – it is what is included under the label “sexual assault.” I have seen many incidents labeled by a cruise line as “inappropriate touch” (such as unwanted sexual touching of a minor). Most parents would label this “sexual assault,” but not necessarily the cruise line. Is this the sort of incident included under “other.” Or is it not included at all given “inappropriate touch” is not a crime. But then we must keep in mind that a rape perpetrated by a minor on another minor may not be considered a crime, and a rape perpetrated by one male on another may not be considered a crime. What exactly is included (and not included) in what a cruise line reports.