Occasionally the media picks up stories about criminal activity that’s occurred on cruise ships, and makes hay of it. Recently there have been hearings on the California state and federal level about passenger safety aboard cruise ships. There’s no denying from time to time crime occurs on cruise ships, as it does in hotels or in private homes. The issue here, however, is further complicated by the fact that most ships are not registered in the U.S., but in other countries. As a result, the question of who has jurisdiction when crime occurs involving a U.S. citizen aboard a vessel that’s neither U.S. owned nor registered. So the question really is are cruise lines irresponsible in dealing with crime that occurs on their ships? And the answer there is: “No.” The cruise industry understands the worst thing that can happen to it is if consumers presume cruise ships are not safe. Why would cruise lines shoot themselves in their own foot?
It’s important to put this issue into proper perspective. Cruise lines work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and international organizations, to ensure maximum safety and security for all passengers, and occurrences of crime, beyond petty theft, are far from commonplace.
The cruise industry has an excellent record for safety and security. This is demonstrated in numerous ways:
• Every cruise ship has qualified security officers and security staff who are "experienced, highly-trained law enforcement personnel."
• Every crew member is required and trained to look out for the safety and security of all passengers.
• Anyone boarding a CLIA member cruise ship, and every piece of their luggage, are subject to more rigorous screening than is required for airline passengers at most of the world's airports.
• Any incident or even alleged incident onboard a cruise ship is immediately reported to the FBI and Coast Guard, and both agencies say the system is working well. Despite some misleading representation of the facts, this reporting is mandatory, not voluntary, and the Coast Guard has testified that there is "no emerging requirement for legislative change regarding the incident reporting requirements."
• In this day and age of cell phones, camera phones and internet access, the likelihood that a serious incident would go unnoticed, let alone unreported, is highly unrealistic.
Some 95 percent of all cruise passengers say they are satisfied with their cruising experience, and more than 50 percent of cruise passengers are multiple cruisers.