Two stories hit the internet this weekend regarding children being raped on cruise ships.
12 year Old Raped On Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas
The first article involves allegations that an adult passenger drugged and raped a 12 year old girl who was sailing on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. The complaint alleges that the adult met the child at a "teens-only" event sponsored by the cruise line. The information is contained in a Miami maritime lawyer's blog:
"Royal Caribbean Cruise Line advertises and markets that it has programs and caters to pre-teens and teens. In fact, the cruise line advertises on its website that it provides as 'adventure ocean youth facilities including teen only areas” and advertises and represents that 'our 12-14 and 15-17' teen groups give them the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights, and more. Teens can also meet up and chill-out in the laid back Living Room lounge, or cut loose at Fuel, the teen only night club.
Royal Caribbean also markets, advertises and represents that 'parents don’t have to worry about you hanging out there, because every member of our team staff holds a college degree and education, recreation or a related field and has experience working with youth ages 3-17.' Their advertisement also states that this program is 'available on all ships.'
However, on this particular cruise, despite its representations, Royal Caribbean allowed an adult man to attend a teen-only event. In turn, the adult man then seduced our client, a minor child, 12 years-of-age at the time of this incident, drugged her, and raped her."
These type of cases are troubling because the public does not realize that there is a problem with sexual predators on cruises (both crew and passengers). To make matters worse, the cruise lines tell the parents not to worry about their kids because the cruise line will keep them safe which is not true.
We have handled and are currently handling cases where children from age 3 to 17 have been raped or molested after being entrusted to the cruise lines' "kid activity centers" or "teen camps." Some of the parents of the victimized children were cruise fanatics before their lives were forever changed by the crime committed against their children.
Juvenile Sexually Assaulted on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun
The second story involves the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun. The article is entitled "Sex Claims Clouds Cruise." Cruise Law News was the first to report the incident in the U.S. in an article dated October 10, 2009. I also tweeted about the incident on Twitter.
Cruise Community's Indifference to Shipboard Crimes Involving Children?
No U.S. newspaper covered the stories. No one in the world of Twitter re-tweeted the stories. The cruise line did not even bother to issue a press statement about the sexual assault of a minor on the P & O cruise. No calm and reassuring statement via YouTube by cruise line CEO Ann Sherry, who I have praised in the past.
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), whose Twitter name is humorously @CruiseFacts didn't even bother to issue its usual crime-is-rare denials. Not a single one of the 16,000 travel agents, who are an integral part of CLIA, took a moment to inquire into the stories.
What's more disturbing is that no one in the cruise community bothered to address these disturbing stories. The editors of the popular CruiseMates or CruiseCritic online cruise communities couldn't find space on their blogs to mention the assault of a minor during a cruise. There are hundreds of cruise fanatics who tweet and post comments incessantly about the most trivial of cruise "issues."
But not a single mention of a minor being raped during a cruise.
Frivolous Thoughts From a Frivolous Industry?
Instead, the cruise fanatics were obsessed with the "issue" of an Italian couple filing suit because the cruise line did not tell them that they booked a gay cruise. Like, who cares? Well the cruise community does. They were so fired up about the two homophobic cruisers that USA Today's cruise community blog @CruiseLog recorded, as of the writing of this blog, 757 comments on the story. @CruiseLog's story about some nuts suing over a gay cruise was the fifth most read story at USA Today, ahead of the story about President on Obama trip to New Orleans!
But not a single mention of a child raped during a cruise.
The cruise fans who blog and twitter undoubtedly use the same search words in their Goggle readers as I do or have similar RSS feeds. They obviously see the same stories popping up about sexual assault of children on cruise ships, or the robbery of eleven cruise passengers last Sunday at a tourist attraction in the middle of Nassau, as I did.
But they choose to ignore these type of unpleasant stories. Is it because they sold out to the cruise lines who pay money for banners and ads on their web sites? Or they don't want to disrupt their give-us-a-free-cruise-and-we-will-write-a nice-review arrangement? Or because they simply don't want to offend their friends in the cruise industry who invite them to the behind-the-scene parties and events?
Which Cruise Line has the Best Steakhouse???
So we have cruise cheerleaders like @CruiseMates, @CruiseCritic and the @CruiseWhatevers tweeting and blogging incessantly about breaking "stories," like just how big the Oasis of the Seas is!!! Wow!!!
I realize that those cruise fans reading this blog have more important issues to consider. Check out the debate on USA Today's cruise blog now: Which cruise line has the best steakhouse? We're debating the topic today!! 48 comments and counting!
Now that's something to blog about!