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 children 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.
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 daily 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.
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.
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 cruises. 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?