Cruise Ship Crimes: 928 Cases Withheld Despite Transparency Law

Friday, 26 Jul 2013 09:45 AM

By Megan Anderle

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As many as 928 crimes on cruise ships in the past two years have not been publicly reported, despite a 2010 law that requires the industry disclose crimes to consumers, data released by a Senate panel shows. One panel member is hoping to change that though and hold cruise companies more accountable.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s report issued Wednesday found that of the 959 alleged crimes the industry voluntarily logged with the FBI, including 130 serious ones that required reporting, only 31 were made public, the USA Today reported.

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Committee Chairman John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., said it was troubling that a law promising more safety and security transparency for consumers had been passed but the industry has not abided by it.

"Consumers have no way to find out what their real risks are before they book a cruise," he told a panel of witnesses that included executives from Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International.

To combat the issue, Rockefeller this week introduced a bill that would provide the almost 21 million Americans who plan to take a cruise this year with "critical information" before they board a vessel, according to the USA Today.

The bill, stricter than the first, requires all crimes are reported publicly and that cruise lines place video cameras in all public areas. The measure also requires the Department of Transportation establishes an advocate who can provide assistance to victims on board ships.

Cruise line representatives claim they are working on improving transparency.

The three largest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian – already have pledged to post crime data on their websites by Aug. 1 that will give consumers more information than the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 calls for, according to the USA Today.

"We will report allegations of all the CVSSA categories of crime for all customers anywhere in the world that we go, which is beyond the requirements of anything," Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean International president and chief executive officer, said after the hearing.

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Rockefeller criticized cruise lines’ safety record overall; high-profile incidents like the power outage that left the Carnival Triumph and roughly 3,000 passengers stranded in the waters off Mexico for several days in February have truly hurt the lines’ reputations and destroyed customer confidence.

"If the industry is seriously working to improve the safety and security of its ships, why have we witnessed so many serious incidents in the last 16 months?" he asked. "I believe the culture of safety that Americans expect – as they should – is clearly not always a priority for cruise lines."

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