A Report on Crime vs. Safety on Cruise Ships
What's the real scoop on cruise ship crime? With the blending of international, federal and state authorities that often accompany cruise ship itineraries, is it easy for simple safety issues to become severely complicated? As of late, stories of danger and mystery aboard have found their way to the front pages, causing alarm and concern to cruisers and those who have plans in the works.
|"While virtually no place - on land or sea - is totally free of risk, the number of reported incidents of serious crime from cruise lines is extremely low."
In response, the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) has released an industry date compilation, detailing crime aboard cruise ships between 2003-2005, during which more than 31 million people sailed on cruise ships.
Based on 15 cruise lines' submissions, only 206 complaints were filed from passengers and crew during the three-year timeframe, 178 being of sexual assault, four in response to robberies, and 24 being related to missing persons.
The cruise industry retained nationally-renowned criminologist Professor James Fox, Ph.D., as an independent expert to review the data, which was provided to Congress in March 2006.
“While virtually no place - on land or sea - is totally free of risk, the number of reported incidents of serious crime from cruise lines is extremely low, no matter what benchmark or standard is used,” said Fox of the cruise ship statistics.
“Cruising is one of the safest vacations available with an outstanding record that demonstrates the industry’s commitment to safety and security,” said Michael Crye, president of the ICCL.
Crye offered the following advice for travelers: “While instances of crime on board cruise ships are rare, it is important to be observant of one’s possessions and one’s surroundings at all times while traveling. Cruise passengers are reminded of this, as they are in any hotel, by safety information, daily bulletins, port visit briefings and the provision of room safes or safety deposit boxes.”
“While a crime can occur anywhere, a cruise ship is one of the safest ways to travel,” Crye added.
Cruise lines operate within a legal framework under which international, federal and state authorities investigate crimes on board cruise ships. All allegations of crimes involving U.S. citizens are reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and alleged crimes against Americans can be investigated and prosecuted under U.S. federal statutes even if they arise on cruise ships outside of U.S. waters.
ICCL member cruise lines maintain a strict zero-tolerance policy for crime that was adopted in 1999. In the event of an incident, the cruise industry takes all allegations and incidents seriously, reports them to the proper authorities and fully cooperates in any investigation. In many instances, cruise lines do not publicly disclose detailed information to comply with directions from law enforcement and out of respect for the families involved.
Cruise lines work closely with local, state, federal and international authorities, such as port authorities where ships call, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI and Interpol. Every cruise ship has a dedicated security officer and staff whose sole function is the security of the passengers, crew and vessel. Security staff personnel typically have a former law enforcement or military background and are trained according to international security regulations.