Royal Caribbean's "Debt of the Seas" - Ready to Sail - But Safety and Security Questions Remain Unanswered
TIME magazine's not-yet-published December 14th edition contains a story about Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas called "Floating Island."
I thought that the title of the article was rather weak. "Floating Foreclosure" might be more accurate . . .
The best line in the article - to cruise lines, every passenger is a potential ATM - accurately reflects the cruise line's necessity to try and suck every dime out of their customers to pay for Royal Caribbean's $1,500,000,000 heavily-financed-floating-city which might as well be called Debt of the Seas. There are many beautiful photographs of the cruise ship.
But the Oasis looks frightening like an over-developed, largely empty, and soon-to-be-repossessed-condominium, the likes of which plague the Miami skyline.
The last time that TIME devoted a couple of pages to the cruise industry was back in March of 2006 when it discussed crime aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships in an article entitled "Crime Rocks the Boats." That article is framed and hangs on my office wall, but not just because it mentions two of my clients. TIME's insightful article by Julie Rawe was the first time a major periodical took a hard look at the cruise industry's nasty practice of covering up shipboard crimes.
Both clients featured in the TIME article - Janet Kelly who was a victim of a violent shipboard crime and Jennifer Hagel who lost her husband under mysterious circumstances during a Royal Caribbean cruise - overcame their personal tragedies to help change the cruise industry. Both ladies appeared before our U.S. Congress in 2006 and went on television to get the message out that changes needed to be made to protect American traveling on foreign flagged cruise ships, particularly Royal Caribbean's ships.
So here we are almost four years later. In the hysteria and hype surrounding the arrival of the Oasis of the Seas in South Florida, the media has lost all thought of the issue of passenger safety. The seemingly endless articles focus almost exclusively on the size, cost, and how-on-earth-are-we-going-to-pay-for what TIME calls a "sea monster" like the Oasis.
Several weeks ago, I prepared "Seven Questions to Ask Royal Caribbean Executives Regarding Oasis of the Seas." CEO Fain and President Goldstein were aboard the Oasis with microphone in hand and supposedly open for all questions. But they refused to provide any information about the safety and security of the passengers. Certainly U.S. passengers who pay thousands of dollars each to sail on this mega-target of a ship deserve straight forward answers whether their families will be safe from crime and terrorists.
So here are some of the questions again, and easy ones at that:
Q: The LA Times reported that for a period of 32 months, there were over 250 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and sexual harassment against guests and crew members on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. In light of these problems, how many security guards are employed on the Oasis of the Seas?
Q: How many security guards are assigned to the seven "neighborhoods" on the cruise ship? Are there security "sub-stations" in each of the neighborhoods?
Q: How many security guards patrol the neighborhoods from 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m., a time period we have found when female passengers are at a higher risk of being assaulted?
Q: Saturday Night Live joked about the Oasis of the Seas being being bounty for pirates. Whereas the thought of a pirate attack in the Caribbean may be silly, a large cruise ship like this could be a target of a terrorist group. Does the ship have a sufficient number of security personnel to not only protect the passengers from shipboard crime, but deter and fight off a terrorist attack?
The Oasis of the Seas will make its inaugural sailing tomorrow - Saturday, December 5, 2009. Because Royal Caribbean won't answer any questions, ask yourself - has Royal Caribbean invested adequately into safety and security technologies and personnel to protect you and your family?
The cruise line executives will never tell, but we shall soon find out.
Janet Kelly and Jennifer Hagel ABC News
Royal Caribbean executives Royal Caribbean via Cruise Critic