What the Cruise Industry Isn’t Telling You: Crime Stats Explored
The cruise lines would like to be complemented for voluntarily releasing their crime statistics. The problem is that their figures are not produced by an independent authority with free access to all files. The figures are prepared by the cruise line itself, which has an interest in minimizing the appearance of crime.
Take for example: cruise lines have chosen to report assaults with serious bodily injury, but do not report simple assault, yet simple assaults occurred 11 times more frequently than assault with serious bodily injury on Royal Caribbean ships in 2007-08.Similarly, cruise lines have chosen to report thefts of over $10,000, but not thefts of lesser amounts – in 2007-08 the number of thefts on Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships were 24 times higher than the number of thefts over $10,000. By avoiding these categories (and others), the cruise lines mislead the consumer into believing crime is less prevalent than it is.
It isn’t only a matter of the categories under which they report data. What about the data they do report. It is illuminating to compare the number of crimes reported on a cruise line’s website and the number reported for the same crime by the FBI to the Senate Commerce Committee. For example, the FBI says it received 40 reports of sexual assault on Carnival ships, but Carnival reports on its website a total of 17. Why would the company report to the FBI more crimes under this category than they report on the voluntary disclosure spreadsheet on their website. There are discrepancies, not as stark, with other cruise lines.
There are other ways cruise lines attempt to minimize their crime statistics. There are known crime events that have been reported in the media that appear to be not included in cruise line online reports. Also, cruise corporations combine cruise lines in order to dilute the rate of crime on ships. For example, Carnival combines four cruise lines – Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruises – and then computes the crime rate. But this creates misleading statistics. Carnival Cruise Lines accounts for 46 percent of the passengers population on ships belonging to these four brands, however in 2007-08 Carnival Cruise Lines accounted for 87 percent of the sexual assaults and 96 percent of the thefts. The rate of crime is significantly lower on the other cruise lines than on Carnival Cruise Lines; by averaging across the lines it gives the appearance that Carnival is safer than it actually is.