The top three cruise lines publish aggregated "crime" allegation reports on their web sites
Witness at Cruise Safety hearing
The top three cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have now published aggregated "crime" allegation reports on their web sites. The decision to publish these reports was made by the cruise lines ahead of the possible passing of a new bill proposed in the U.S. Senate written by Dem. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
All of the cruise lines have published quarterly reports going back to the fourth quarter of 2010 with subsequent reports up through June 30, 2013. Both Adam Goldstein and Gerry Cahill, CEO's of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line (respectively) promised Senator Rockefeller that they would voluntarily put these crime reports online starting today (August 1st). Norwegian Cruise Line also voluntarily complied with the promise made.
The Norwegian reports are on this page:
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE'S VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF ALLEGED CRIMES
The Royal Caribbean reports can be found here:
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL CRIME ALLEGATION STATISTICS
And here is the
Carnival "Incident Reporting Statistic Site"
What do the reports tell us? Significantly, while Royal and Norwegian only put the reports on their web sites, Carnival Cruise Line wisely chose to publish a "Legal Notice" preamble to the reports, which is appropriate and necessary for people reading these reports to understand the context under which they are presented. Included in that notice are the words, "Public reporting requirements, mandated by this law, are unique to the cruise industry and similar requirements do not exist for other travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels and theme parks."
That's right - these reports are only online because the cruise industry has been singled out by groups of people who claim that (see if you can follow this logic) "because so very few crimes on cruise ships have ever been reported and prosecuted that can only mean there is a "cover-up" of the crimes by the cruise industry." Unfortunately, for the cruise industry it is impossible to prove a negative, and so they must comply with the people in charge who have fallen for the "disgrace the cruise industry" movement.
A law called the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) was passed in 2010, signed by President Obama. That law originally said the cruise lines were required to forward these same reports to the Coast Guard who would then publish them online at the Coast Guard site. But just before that bill was passed, that wording was changed to say that only the incidents that were accepted for investigation by the FBI (the legal agency with jurisdiction over crimes at sea involving U.S. citizens) and where the FBI had made a determination about the accuracy and veracity of the allegation would be published.
That angered a lot of "cruise victims", even though that decision was made by the legal entities involved according to the people who made the last minute changes, the FBI and the Coast Guard. These agencies did not feel it was right to publish mere allegations that in many cases could have no substance. But, as usual, the cruise industry itself received all the blame and accusations for the change in the law.
And so, Carnival writes in its preamble:
There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our guests. Comprehensive, fleet-wide security practices have been in place for many years, which include the reporting of alleged crimes to the FBI. However, as a result of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, statistics for cruise ship crime allegations will now be posted on the internet for public viewing. Public reporting requirements, mandated by this law, are unique to the cruise industry and similar requirements do not exist for other travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels and theme parks.
The statistics, cited within the U.S. Coast Guard's web site, represent crime allegations in different categories occurring on cruise ships sailing from North America, which must be reported in accordance to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.
It is worth noting that these alleged incidents are no longer under investigation by the FBI and may have been reported without sufficient evidence. Additionally, it is most important to put these statistics within proper context so that everyone can understand that the incidence of crime on board is very small given the large number of guests we carry.
With 23 of our 24 ships currently sailing from US ports, we carry more guests in North America than any other line.
This year, more than four million guests will sail with Carnival, so the number of alleged incidents is a small fraction of those carried. The likelihood of having an incident occur on board one of our ships is therefore remote.
A Carnival cruise remains one of the safest vacation options available.
In that text above the most important sentence is "It is worth noting that these alleged incidents are no longer under investigation by the FBI and may have been reported without sufficient evidence." In other words, the first thing you need to know is that the cruise lines have been reporting all of these incidents to the FBI all along. But only the ones that were investigated and brought to a conclusion were published by the Coast Guard.
No one except Jay Rockefeller and the self-described "cruise-victims" feel it is prudent (or relevant, or legal) to publish non-investigated, non-adjudicated allegations of crimes just because they were reported on cruise ships - and not in a theme park or a hotel for example.
Carnival also notes that it has 24 separate ships in full service, so the line carries as many as 4-million people each year. If you take a city of 4-million people and look at the yearly crime statistics, they always come out much higher than what is reported on cruise ships.
The Actual Reports
While the format is much the same as what we have been seeing for years on the Coast Guard site, the numbers are different because they now include every single report made to the cruise lines, not just the ones where the FBI accepted and investigated the allegation.
In this last quarter for Carnival, for example, we see five reports of alleged incidents including one assault with serious injury on a passenger, two allegations of sexual assault made by passengers and two by crew members; a total of five allegations during a three month period when their ships carried close to 1.28-million passengers and crew. Royal Caribbean cited two reported allegations in the same period. Norwegian has nothing to report in that period, but Norwegian is a much smaller cruise line.
Under its report for that period the Norwegian page has this information:
The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) are published annually by the FBI and contain statistics regarding land-based crimes in designated categories reported to law enforcement agencies across the United States. The UCR's rates nationwide for alleged violent crimes per 100,000 persons during the years 2010 through 2012 (based on 2012 Preliminary Report) in the following categories were: Rape - 27.1; Aggravated Assault - 248.9; and Homicide - 4.8. The rates per 100,000 in these categories in the cruise industry, reported by the Cruise Lines International Association for 2010 through 2012, were: Rape - 5.9; Assault with Serious Bodily Injury - 3.8; and Homicide - 0. Details concerning rates of crime in the cruise industry can be found at CLIA - cruising.org.
On a lighter note, I really got a a kick out of Fran Golden's Blog at Porthole called "Reporting Crime on Cruise Ships. She used a picture of "Billy Zane" the gun-concealing bad guy in the hit movie "Titanic" who grabbed a baby and jumped into a lifeboat. In the caption she wrote "Billy Zane, not an actual criminal."