Cruise ships: safe havens for criminals?

When envisioning a high-risk area for crime, a relaxed vacationer lounging with a margarita by the waves isn’t generally the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, while infrequent, crimes on cruise ships pose unique concerns and are overwhelmingly undisclosed to the public. These crimes could involve bodily injury, sexual assaults, vessel tampering resulting in cruise ship accidents, theft, missing people or even death.

Part of what makes a cruise so special are what makes cruise ship crimes so easy to slip under the radar. A cruise ship is isolated, vulnerable and self-contained. The only law enforcement officers on board are security officers, whose employment with the cruise line creates a conflict of interest. Cruises lack 911 services and police, and social support networks are temporarily limited to friends and family on board. If a ship is far out at sea, a crime can occur outside of any national border, and cell phone reception may be nonexistent. There may be a critical delay of days or weeks before a serious crime can be reported to police. It is all too easy for a crime committed on a cruise ship to get swept under the rug.

Prior to a hearing on cruise ship safety and security, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia addressed these concerns on Wednesday. According to Rockefeller’s investigation, cruise industry promises of increased disclosure have not panned out. Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were disclosed on a Congress-ordered website maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Without consumer access to accurate incident statistics for different cruise lines, it’s “buyer beware.” In addition to increased disclosure, Rockefeller proposed increased video surveillance. He also proposed putting the Department of Transportation in charge of cruise ship consumer protection.

If you have been the victim of any crime on a cruise ship, you may have come home with some unwanted baggage. While no one can erase your traumatic memories of a dream vacation gone wrong, a lawyer experienced in cruise ship litigations can help restore justice in your life and fight for the compensation you need and deserve.

Source: 
CNN, “Report: Passengers lack public info on cruise ship crime” Mike M. Ahlers, Jul. 24, 2013