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Are Cruise Ships Safe?

Gary Lee

Federal law enforcement officials gave a report of recent crimes aboard cruise ships at a congressional hearing a few days ago and the figures are daunting.

There were 207 reports of serious crimes aboard ships in the period between April 1 and Aug. 24, an FBI official told a congressional committee. Among the crimes: four missing people, 41 sexual assaults, and 13 thefts of items valued at more than $10,000.

The hearing was called by the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Held last week, it was the fourth in a series of hearings the panel has called to examine questions about crimes on cruise ships and how they should be combatted.

Angela Orlich, a passenger from Springfield, Mass., testified about her experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise in January 2003. She said that during a scuba excursion in Cozumel, Mexico, the instructor tried to sexually assault her once she was underwater. Royal Caribbean has responded to incidents of crime by installing peepholes on the cabins on some of its ships, putting suicide hotlines in place and introducing other measures.

At the hearing, cruise industry officials responded that while crimes should not be tolerated, the level of crime aboard ships affects only a very small percentage of the 10 million Americans who travel on cruise ships every year. Lawmakers asked cruise industry officials to give another status report on crime in 90 days.

What say the cruisers, or would-be cruisers, among you? In your experience, are cruise ships safe? Or do you see the need for further security measures? If so, what steps would be appropriate?

By Gary Lee |  October 4, 2007; 10:03 AM ET  | Category:  Cruise Industry , Gary Lee
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I feel that cruise ships are pretty safe. The one example given of sexual assault may have happened while the woman was on a cruise, but not while she was on the ship; so i would consider that irrelevant to the figures. That being said, i think a bad apple could do a lot of damage on a cruise ship, but there's really no where for them to run. They either jump overboard, extend their stay at one of the stops thus outing themselves, or stay on board and take the heat. All and all, i felt very safe on the cruise.

Posted by: J-Mart | October 4, 2007 5:27 PM

I've been on several cruises and felt they were very safe. Part of this is the law of large numbers. 10 million people cruise and there are a few problems. San Francisco has three-fourths of a million people and 100 murders a year. On cruise ships, everybody on board is screened, must present an id and all luggage is scanned. If you visit a major US city, you have no such protection.

Posted by: Folgers | October 4, 2007 6:38 PM

While I have not taken a cruise ship, I did hear the story from a friend where at least 10 years ago her and her girlfriend were harassed by a crew member- they were each flirted with 3 or 4 times to constant "nos" by someone who clearly thought he had more to offer them than they saw. They said no matter where they were this guy would show up and hang around them, asking them to different events, and it took multiple complaints to supervisors to make the guy stop- But that hampered 3 out of 5 days of the cruise. They said they could easily see that turning into assault because the guy didn't appear to respect women or their opinions at all. I heard that cruise lines have implemented sexual harassment policies since then and I think they're necessary.

Posted by: DCer | October 5, 2007 3:43 PM

Most of the incidents I've heard of occur late at night and often involve heavy drinking. Women are especially susceptible when it's late, they are intoxicated and alone. When partying late at night there is safety in numbers

Posted by: ASAP | October 10, 2007 12:56 PM

my husband and i have been on 6 cruises with 3 cruise lines in the past 10 years. we have always felt safe while on the cruise ships. we chose on shore excursions that were sanctioned by the cruise ship and had no problem with them either. the cruise ship has rules and guidelines for passenger safety and if followed properly there should be no problems.

Posted by: e hart | October 10, 2007 4:03 PM

I recently went on a Carnival Cruise w. my two teenagers who had a great time in the kids club which was supervised until about 0100 am. The clubs were divided by age group and the security at the door had lists of all the kids names and ages so they made sure that the kids went into the club for their age group and there was no underage drinking.
I gave my kids a curfew every night to return to the room. One night my daughter didn't return and so my son and I searched the ship for her for about two hours and couldn't find her. I was frantic!! The ship was quite deserted as most people had gone back to their rooms. I reported this to security and the security guard responded immediately and thankfully found her at the top of the ship. I would like to see the cruise lines have a curfew for kids under 18 to be back in their rooms when the supervised activities end. The cruise ships are like anywhere else, staying out late gets dangerous. It is hard for teenagers to understand this, especially in a vacation environment. I understand that it is the parents' responsibility to control their kids.
Overall, I felt very safe on the Carnival cruise (there was a lot of security) but I wouldn't take my teenagers on a cruise with me again.

Posted by: garkat | October 12, 2007 10:51 AM

As with any vacation, common sense still applies.I started cruising at age 11. We were always supervised as children. As a teen, yes, we had unwelcome comments from some crewmembers, but saftey in number applies. We never went anywhere alone. I have taken my son starting at age 5. He was always supervised. I have over 35 cruises under my belt and only one story to tell of a tablemate who was removed from the ship for assault on a security officer. Just use common sense.....

Posted by: tigger | December 28, 2007 4:33 PM

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