Cruise Industry

Industry Focus: Cruise ships and crime, much ado about nothing?

This month, the world’s three largest cruise lines, accounting for two thirds of the global cruise industry, voluntarily released data on all crimes reported aboard the vessels throughout their subsidiary fleets.

Disney Cruise Line quickly followed the example set by Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. The release of the data was heralded as a major breakthrough by industry observers, but the actual facts may leave one wondering what all the fuss is about…

For a start, it’s important to note that the cruise line’s succumbed to pressure from the US Congress and not from the actual cruising public. When one looks at the numbers, you might find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about.


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The reportable crimes, dating back to 2010, include homicides, suspicious deaths, missing persons, kidnappings, assault with “serious” injury, theft of more than $10,000, rape and sexual assault. They include those crimes reported, which were later proved to be false or inconclusive.

Carnival Corporation is by far the largest cruise company in the world, controlling almost half of the global cruise market through its various subsidiary cruise line’s, which include Carnival Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises, P&O Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. This leviathan of the cruise industry carried more than 26 million passengers in 2012 and had 40 crimes reported.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the second-largest cruise company in the world, had 29 crimes reported aboard its Royal Caribbean International ships in 2012, a year in which it carried more than 3.5 million passengers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, and has a 50% stake in TUI Cruises, although the published crime stats do not include these lines.

Norwegian Cruise Line, accounting for 8 percent of the global cruise market and carrying 1.5 million passengers in 2012, disclosed that a total of 8 crimes were reported during that year.

Disney Cruise Line carried around 750,000 passengers in 2012 and disclosed that 7 crimes were reported aboard their four ships during that year. So, looking at the numbers, these four cruise lines carried around 31,750,000 passengers and had a total of 84 crimes reported onboard their ships.

That’s an incidence of 1 crime for every 380,000 passengers. If the segment of the cruise industry controlled by these four cruise lines was a country, it would be one of the safest in the world – there are three times as many murders per 300,000 people in Norway than the total reported crime in this segment of the cruise industry.


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We’re not trying to belittle or play down how serious these crime are, any incidence of rape, sexual assault, violent crime and especially assault of a minor is abhorrent and should be investigated to the full extent of the law, but claims of a crime problem in the cruise industry are an example of exaggeration and are counterproductive to the real issues that must be addressed.

It is a sad fact that the majority of crimes reported aboard cruise ships involve sexual assault. Cruise ship rape and sexual assault incidents are considered serious crimes, and as such, are required to be reported to the FBI, Coast Guard and other maritime investigative authorities.

Unfortunately, due to discrepancies within the maritime laws themselves, there are loopholes that leave victims of crime unable to press charges. It is this that the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013 must address.

The cruise industry is one of the safety in the world, when it comes to the safety of the ships themselves and the security of passengers socially aboard ship. To claim that there is a crime problem in the cruise industry is false, such claims are not supported by the facts – but there is a major problem of successful prosecution after a crime has been committed.

Any crime, minor or serious, must be investigated and justice must be done, but the issue needs to be addressed without the sensationalism currently being displayed in the media.

Cruise ships crime statistics summary for 2012:

Suspicious death
Missing US National Carnival – 2 Royal Caribbean – 1 Year total: 3
Assault with serious bodily injury Carnival – 9 Royal Caribbean – 3 NCL – 3 Year total: 15
Firing, or tampering with vessel Carnival – 2 Royal Caribbean – 2 Year total: 4
Theft > $10,000 Carnival – 7 Royal Caribbean – 9 NCL – 1 Year total: 17
Rape Carnival – 11 Royal Caribbean – 6 NCL – 1 Disney – 1 Year total: 19
Sexual assault/other Carnival – 9 Royal Caribbean – 8 NCL – 3 Disney – 6 Year total: 26
Total crimes comitted in 2012: 84
Total passengers carried: 31.7-million

Categories: Cruise Industry

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