Planning a cruise this winter? Millions of people do every year, and the vast majority of those have a positive experience. Unfortunately, a portion of cruisers also experience crime at sea, including very serious offenses, such as physical assault and rape. Some passengers are even killed.
Would it be valuable for you to know which cruise line was the safest in terms of crime? Probably so. But good luck sorting that out.
Since passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 (PDF), cruise lines have been required to disclose the numbers of crimes committed aboard their ships. According to documents released by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, however, over 900 crimes were never disclosed that should have been.
The problem appears to be a reporting loophole in the CVSSA that allows cruise lines not to report any allegations “no longer under investigation” by the FBI. This includes offenses that are pending prosecution, that fall outside certain identified categories (homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, etc.), or that fall outside of federal jurisdiction.
That potentially excludes a lot of cases, which makes CVSSA reporting somewhat misleading.
To address this, Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller of West Virginia has introduced a bill, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which would require new consumer complaint procedures, video monitoring of public areas aboard cruise ships, and more comprehensive reporting of crime data to the public.
To its credit, the Cruise Lines International Association, testified before the Senate this past July that several major cruise lines (including Royal Caribbean) would begin a voluntary program of enhanced reporting on August 1st of this year. According to the testimony:
Even though no other comparable business or industry must do so, in order to end questions about crime statistics on cruises, in May of this year the three largest cruise line companies, whose ten North American brands comprised 89% of the North American oceangoing cruise industry (i.e., all CLIA oceangoing brands that market or sell cruises in North America, regardless of itinerary) between 2010 and 2012, voluntarily agreed to begin posting crime data on their websites with a comparison to rates of crime in the U.S.
A check of Royal Caribbean’s Crime Allegation Statistics page shows that they have not begun actually reporting those numbers yet (as of September 2013). Presumably, it’s still too early in the reporting cycle for those to be available. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Investigative Service posts comparison data on crime statistics between several major cruise lines, but again those numbers are collected and reported according to the limited (and misleading) CVSSA requirements.
So, what are your thoughts? Do crime stats matter to you when planning and booking a cruise? Vote in this week’s poll and leave a comment below!
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