January 2012 - Spotlight on Cruise Ship Dangers - Do You Trust Cruise Lines and Travel Agents?

Last month was an ugly, ugly month for the cruise industry.

January 2012 will long be remembered as the month that brought us the death and destruction surrounding the the Costa Concordia cruise ship, resulting in the media asking us- is it safe to cruise?

Lots of other really bad things have been happening in the world of cruising this new year before the Concordia disaster, seemingly non-stop, since January 1st.

The month started ominously when multiple rapes were reported on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas which returned to Fort Lauderdale on January 2nd.  Sexual crimes against women and Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rapechildren are the cruise industry's nasty secret.  Cruise lines say that such crimes are "rare."  But that's just PR spin.  Click on the categories "Rape," "Sexual Assault," and "Sexual Assault of Children" (to the left of my blog).  There are more stories than you can stand to read; you will never read them all.  And my blog is less than two and one-half years old.

On January 12th we reported on a Royal Caribbean crewmember raping a fourteen year old girl on the Adventure of the Seas cruise ship.  Yes shocking.  But not really if you have your pulse on the dark side of cruise industry.  There are numerous cases like this on Royal Caribbean and Carnival each year, that the cruise lines don't want you to know about.     

In-house attorneys at the cruise lines joked about all of this being "job security." 

On January 21st we reported on the blockbuster story out of the U.K. about a Cunard crewmember who is suspected of sexually abusing children during cruises.  Cunard refuses to identify the job position of the the former crew member, "but he is known to have been a low-ranking employee who had regular, close contact with passengers on board" according to the press in England.   

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rape Was the Cunard employee a youth counselor or a stateroom attendant, the two most likely job positions for crewmembers who prey on innocent children?  We have been contacted by former passengers who are frightened by the prospect that a child predator was working for Cunard while they vacationed with their children aboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth cruise ships.  But Cunard will provide no details regarding when and where the alleged predator worked.

Sexual molestation of kids on cruises is well known to the cruise insiders.  Some cruise lines hide the problem and stay out of the press better than others.   

But who is thinking of children and infants being sexually abused by cruise line perverts when the  world is preoccupied by the Costa Concordia disaster?

The cruise lines were quick to claim that such incidents, like rapes, overboard disappearances and anything else that may embarrass them, are "rare."  But in truth, cruise ship catastrophes are not rare at all; just over four years ago the Sea Diamond sank in Greek waters, with loss of life, after the cruise ship's captain ran the ship into a charted reef.  Yes, a reef that had been there for like several hundred million years.

You can read about lots of other disasters, collisions, allisions, near-misses and fires, which the cruise lines don't want you to know about, here.   

Admittedly, disasters with such soap-opera-drama like the Costa Concordia debacle are not a dCaptain Schettino Girlfriendaily occurrence.  Can you believe that at the time of the crash the captain was eating dinner and drinking wine with a 25 year old woman, formerly employed on the ship, who I have called the cruise "blonde bimbo?" 

Just today, this young woman, whose photographs in a bikini are plastered all over the internet, announced her "love" for the married captain to Italian prosecutors.  She also admitted that if women's clothing were found in the captain's quarters, they were probably hers.  Why do I think that when Captain Schettino goes to prison the blonde-in-the-bikini will have his baby?  

Sordid details, no doubt.  17 people are confirmed dead and over two dozen missing, probably trapped in the bowels of the capsized ship, and we have to listen to National Enquirer details of this nutcake captain and his bizarro lover? 

The point being that any notion that the public had left of mature, safety-minded professional mariners at the helm of cruise ships should have been thoroughly destroyed, assuming it was not already by the disgusting circumstances surrounding Captain Schettino's abandonment of the ship as captured by the high spirited dialogue between the cowardly captain and Italian Coast Guard Commander Gregorio de Falco.

And what do you think subordinate women crewmembers face when they are sexually abused and harassed on cruise ships with the likes of cowardly Captain Schettino setting the moral compass?  

And speaking of cowards, Carnival CEO Micky Arison hides under the covers in his 200 foot luxury yacht.  He re-emerges only during a Miami Heat game while his cruise guests float and bloat in the sarcophagus of the sunken cruise ship.    

Captain Schettino - Coward of the Seas The hard core cruise fanatics and travel agents, who are flipped out by losing ticket sales posed by the ugly spectacle unfolding around them, are frantically trying to convince the public that cruising is the "safest method of mass transportation."  The talking points babbled by the cruise shills include the big lie that there have been only 16 dead in the last 100 million passengers on a cruise ship. 

Nonsense.

We have witnessed 33 dead or missing just the last month on the Concordia alone.  Our blog has reported on hundreds of dead passengers and crew (they are people too, right?) due to gross medical negligence, foul play, suicide, lifeboat accidents, slip and fall accidents, out-of-control drinking, violence, murder, excursion mishaps, fires,drownings, and so forth.    

Add to the numerous dead Costa passengers and crew this month, the dead Carnival passenger who fell from one deck to the atrium lobby below, and the dead Royal Caribbean passenger who slipped and fell on steps out side of a disco late at night and somehow died after an hour in the ship infirmary.  Don't forget the over-board from the MSC Poesia

Apologists for the cruise lines will suggest that these incidents may have involved some or a lot of alcohol consumed by the dead.  It's a matter of personal responsibility.  It's their fault, they say.

ABC News' 20/20 recent show contained lots of YouTube videos of wasted passengers on Costa Concordia Cruise Shipcruises.  Oh how the cruise fans were incensed by the 20/20 cruise ship special.  Say what you want, whether the ABC show was over-the-top or right-on-point, excessive alcohol consumption by many passengers is common and encouraged by the cruise lines.  There's a direct correlation between lots of cruise booze and sexual crimes, overboards and death. 

After all, it was Captain Schettino, who was into the vino with his blonde former-crewmember-squeeze, enjoying dinner with dreams of the evening ahead when all hell broke loose.  Yes, it's a matter of responsibility.  It's the captain's fault and his cruise line employer cronies who were running the floating cruise fraternity house, I say.   

Is cruising safe?   It depends who you ask.  Call one of the 16,000 CLIA travel agents. They will happily tell you (while they make their percentage on the sale) that cruising is perfectly safe!  Come aboard.  Leave your kids in the kid's center.  Trust us.  Have fun!

Does anyone believe the cruise lines and travel agents anymore after last month?

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Comments (11) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Capt. N. Plakas - February 3, 2012 2:44 AM

Please amend the ship's name "Sky Diamond" into "Sea Diamond" sank in Greek waters...

Andrew - February 3, 2012 11:42 AM

I am a travel agent who follows your blog and I read the stories you post, hell I agree with a lot of what you post and have shared your blog with my travelers. I do resent the fact you assume we all just sell cruises blindly without any disregard for our client’s safety. Statistically cruising is the safest way to travel, the best we can do is warn our guests of what to look for.

Hundreds of people die in a car accident every day, should travel agents not make car rental reservations? Planes do crash, should we not sell airline tickets?

I understand the risks involved with cruises and that unfortunately there are bad people in the world. We are not going to stop selling cruises when a boat sinks, or airline tickets when a plane crashes, or car rentals when there is a pileup on the freeway. There is risk in life and to insinuate we don’t care about the people we sell to is very insulting. We do weigh the risks and talk with our clients before hand.

Jim Walker - February 3, 2012 12:01 PM

Andrew:

Thanks for your message.

Yes, stuff happens. But the cruise lines don't warn anyone of the dangers outlined above. Worse than that, they often try to sweep the incidents under the rug.

My comments are admittedly generalizations. Some travel agents make a point of warning their cutomers of the things I write about. The travel agents who don't usually are the ones offended by articles like this.

What warnings, if any, do you provide to your cients?

Jim Walker

Nathan - February 3, 2012 2:31 PM

Andrew's response is great! Just to add a point, when you talk about the sexual abuse of kids, this happens in daycares all over the place as well. Parents trust these daycares just like they trust the cruise line's kids programs. My gut feeling is that it happens more in daycares than on a cruise ship.

Jim, when you say that agents who are offened are the ones who don't warn their clients, you are way off. I take offense to it because I DO let my clients know of the risks, and you post an article saying how agents are not trustworthy.

Here is a question: Do you think sites like expedia.com or cruise.com warn the people who book on their sites? I haven't heard of them doing that, and yet you didn't call them out.

Maybe you should know what a REAL travel agent does before you throw them under the bus or lump them in with agents that don't care.

Jim Walker - February 3, 2012 2:53 PM

Nathan:

Thanks for your message.

Do you really tell your clients that sexual abuse of children "happens more in daycares than on a cruise ship?"

What other warnings do you provide to your cruise clients?

Jim Walker


Andrew - February 3, 2012 5:17 PM

Hello Jim,

For the most part there is no one warning I offer as it depends on the client in particular. Drinking onboard is the main point I have covered. Just to keep in mind limits and that bars will oversell to most guests. After the Concordia sunk I have been very much enforcing know exits and to follow the drills.

I have on multiple occasions referred people to your blog so they can see the articles you post. But I don’t always tell clients about the risks of child abuse onboard because there is no way to know when it will happen. It’s absurd to tell parents… “Hey; just a heads up your kid might get molested on your vacation.” Cruise lines are responsible to screen for this, but people lie and can keep their personal problems covered up. The LAUSD just had a teacher arrested for 23 counts of abuse. Do we warn parents of public school now?

We look out for our clients the best we can but we can’t tell them of the worst case scenario for every vacation we sell. If people have concerns we address them. If they want more information I personally send them to this blog.

Travel agents thrive on repeat business so we are honest with all of our clients. Word of mouth and referrals are vital to survival against the internet. Please don’t insinuate we are heartless about the people we work with. We do this job because we like what we do and the people we work with. I myself have repeat clients who I have worked with for years and it would pain me to hear something happened to their family while on vacation.

Jim Walker - February 3, 2012 5:45 PM

Thanks Andrew:

The number one warning I would tell a parent is not to leave your kids in a cabin alone in the evening. The kids are tired from a beach excursion or all day at the pool and don't want to go to second seating or a show and the parents want to go to the casino or dancing in the disco.

We have seen cases where the cabin attendant uses his key card and gets into the cabin when the parents are out. Not a good situation when a 12 year old girl or a 7 year old boy find themselves alone like this.

It is easy for the cruise line to deactivate cabin attendant key cards after hours but they don't do it.

A lawyer should not be the first one to warn parents of this very real danger, and only after something bad happens.

The cruise lines know it happens but does not warn. It would be a good thing if you and other travel agents would explain this danger to your clients.

Regards

Jim Walker

Ruth Kempsey - February 6, 2012 7:35 AM

I only wish I was fully informed before I booked passage on a cruise ship. I was not. People who are anticipating cruising need this information so they can make an intelligent decision. Enough with sweeping incidents under the rug.

Geoff Furlong - February 6, 2012 8:34 AM

It is perfectly true that sexual crimes on board cruise ships are the hidden factor, as a former Sceurity Officer and a retired Detective in the UK, I came across numerous offences of sexual crimes, with the very smallest number ever coming to light, most of the time the victims are bought off with the offer of direct cash or future cruises etc etc. Cruise ships are the perfect vehicle for sexual preditors and with almost no checks carried out on crew backgrounds, you can imagine how easy it is for this activity to flourish.

Toniann - March 1, 2012 2:32 PM

In my personal opinion Travel Agents (for the most part) are not to blame for what occurs on a cruise ship. AT the end of the day they're literally just trying to do their job by selling these affordable vacations. What I CAN fault certain ones for is the lack of information some of them provide to their customers. A lot of people are 1st time cruisers and use a travel agent because they dont know what to expect when booking a cruise (myself included). I believe it is up to the travel agent to explain as much as humanly possible as to what a cruise entails..the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. Ultimately what I get from this partcicular blog is that most cruise ships, or staff in particular do not own up to the events that take place on these cruises. I find it so extremely disturbing to this day how this cowardly Captain could abandon ship and then have the NERVE to say he "fell into one of the life boats". I am LIVID with this statement and I wasnt even one of the passengers on the Costa Concordia. Where is the justice? What is being done to compensate these people? and what type of closure are the families getting who have lost their loved ones? I certainly hope that actions are being taken to make this as right as it can possibly be as much a disaster as it was. I have read one too many articles where the cruise ship has no comment, or "doesnt know" what took place on their own damn ship. How is that possible? Take responsibility for your actions and own up to your mistakes.

Gary - February 24, 2013 4:33 PM

There are always dangers wherever we go. There are child molesters at church and rapist at the local park. There is no guarantee of safety anywhere. If you want a guaranteed safe vacation take a week off and never leave your house. Of course you could have an earthquake, a fire, an explosion, be raped, get food posioning, stub your toe, etc.

Shame on you.

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