Cruise Ship Crime Victim’s Association Calls Out Cruise Liners’ Voluntary Crime Reporting

Several months ago, this blog discussed the introduction of new legislation entitled, The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (“Protection Act”), at a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that would require cruise companies to publish statistical information regarding crimes committed on their ships that previously went unreported. Surprisingly, three major U.S. cruise companies, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean, offered to voluntarily report cruise ship crimes and man overboard situations ahead of the passage of the legislation.

Shortly after the hearing, the cruise lines released their crime statistics dating back to 2010, which prompted an outcry by non-profit organization International Cruise Victims (“ICV”). Why was ICV displeased with the cruise lines’ seemingly virtuous behavior? Because, according to an ICV press release, the cruise companies were artificially deflating their crime numbers and diluting their crime statistics through several underhanded tactics.

According to the release, Carnival Corporation, owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa, HAL, P&O Cruises, Princess, among others, aggregated the data across all of its brands so as to dilute the crime rate related to its brand with the highest number of crimes. Citing research by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, the ICV press release argued that, although Carnival Cruise Lines represents less than half the total number of Carnival brands, it but accounts for 88% of all crimes committed on all Carnival cruises.

Another of the major three cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, has been criticized for its method of reporting crime statistics because the cruise line has defined man-overboard incidents to exclude crew members and non-U.S. passengers. By narrowing the definition, Royal Caribbean only had to disclose three (3) overboard persons from October 2010 to June 2013. However, that number is likely much greater, maybe three or four times as many.

According to ICV, these incidents of improper reporting demonstrate the need for the reporting regulations established under the Protection Act. The ICV also maintains that the Protection Act will address the need for crimes against minors to be made public, as crimes against minors account for 34% of all alleged sexual crimes occurring aboard cruise ships.

Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. However, a different standard applies to criminal acts committed against passengers by cruise ship employees. Under general maritime law, cruise liners are strictly liable for the intentional, wrongful, and criminal acts of their employees, such as in a rape or sexual assault. This means that a cruise ship company may be found liable for the criminal acts of its employees without a finding of fault, such as negligence.

The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship crimes for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.

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