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What the Cruise Industry IS Telling You about Allegations of Crime

Earlier this week Ross Klein, founder of, published his take on recent cruise crime reports. But his opinion is not how everyone sees it. Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, the trade association for the global cruise industry, alleges that Klein’s presentation,  “was filled with inaccuracies and misleading presentation of data.” She sent along the following post to set the record straight. 

Here are the facts: The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requires cruise lines to report all allegations of serious crimes to the FBI. Allegations for which investigations have been opened and subsequently closed by the FBI are required to be posted on the U.S. Coast Guard website for public viewing. Any suggestion that alleged crimes are not being reported by cruise lines is false, and both the U.S. Coast Guard and FBI have testified before Congress that cruise lines indeed comply with these requirements.  Any cruise line that would fail to report allegations of serious crimes as required by U.S. law faces significant civil and criminal penalties, as well as denial of clearance of ships to enter or leave a U.S. port.

Earlier this year, and long before any Senate hearing or legislation was announced, three of the largest cruise companies in North America decided to voluntarily and publicly post all allegations of serious crimes, regardless of where the alleged crimes occurred. This was done to remove all doubt about the dramatically lower level of alleged crimes on cruise ships compared to corresponding crime rates on land, and so consumers would have a basis from which to make an informed judgment for themselves.

Allegations of crimes being voluntarily disclosed fall within the very same categories of serious crimes that cruise lines are required to report to federal law enforcement under the CVSSA. These categories are set in law and are defined by Federal statute and are the very same ones that victim advocates supported for inclusion in the CVSSA when it was enacted into law in 2010.

In his opinion piece, the professor falsely stated that an “inappropriate touch” of a minor is not a crime.  In reality, such an offense is a felony under 18 USC § 2244(a) and one of the specific categories of alleged crimes required to be reported under both the CVSSA and federal regulations requiring reporting of all felonies. The suggestion that allegations of inappropriate touching of minors, albeit extremely rare on cruise ships, are purposely excluded by cruise lines is patently false.

Such transparency is not provided by any other sector of the travel or hospitality industries.  Additionally, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has posted aggregated industry data, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the cruise industry in North America with a comparison to corresponding rates of crime from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data. Now, consumers have information available to them on closed cases investigated by the FBI, and all allegations of serious crime disclosed by cruise lines and the industry trade association.

Dr. James Alan Fox, a highly respected and credentialed American criminologist who is uniquely knowledgeable about U.S. criminal statutes and often called upon by Congress to testify about such issues, analyzed this data and compared it to Uniform Crime Reporting statistics in a report which can be found here.  In that report Dr. Fox concluded, “By any measure, travel by sea aboard commercial cruise lines is exceptionally safe in terms of the risks associated with criminal activity.”

The cruise industry will continue its comprehensive reporting and disclosure of crime allegations, not only to demonstrate how rare shipboard crime is compared to corresponding rates on land, but to fulfill our unwavering commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for all passengers and crewmembers.

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By Christine Duffy for Duffy is president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, the trade association for the global cruise industry.