I am out of town with my family on Spring Break for a couple of days. This morning I was on my computer reading the Twitter feed for Cruise Shipping Miami 2012.
As all of you know, the Cruise Shipping Miami event (previously known a SeaTrade) is the annual event sponsored by the cruise industry where the cruise line vendors, excursion companies, port agencies, and foreign tourism boards fill the Miami Beach Convention Center advertising their services.
It sounds like a rather surreal environment this year.
The Mexican tourism people are telling everyone how extremely safe Mexico is. Let's not talk about the 22 Carnival cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint last month.
Cruise Line International President Christine Duffy - two weeks after her disastrous performance before the U.S. Senate where she was chastised for a lack of candor - started off her moderation of the cruise line president's discussions with the usual talking points about the cruise industry's incredibly safety record.
Carnival executive Howard Frank said cruise ships are safe and his Costa crewmembers were the "true heroes" in the Costa Concordia disaster. A Celebrity Cruise president and a NCL captain raved about the safety of cruise ships and so on and so forth.
If you ran a computer analysis of the words spoken by the cruise line leaders at the convention, "safe," "incredibly safe" or "remarkably safe" would be at the top of the list.
But the first two months of this year have been as disastrous a period of time for cruising as I have ever seen. Not just the Concordia capsizing and the Allegra ship fire. There have been nine gastrointestinal sickness outbreaks in 2012, a new record. Plus a steady stream of child molestation cases, crewmembers and older passengers raping teenage girls, deaths and overboard crew and passengers, including another highly suspicious disappearance of yet another woman during a recent cruise.
Cruise experts like Professor Ross Klein, who maintains the most comprehensive list of cruise ship overboards, norovirus cases and cruise mishaps - are not invited, and are not welcome, at the cruise convention.
We will read newspaper accounts from the cruise friendly press and travel agent publications reciting the safety "facts" touted by the cruise industry as the Gospel Truth.
This is the cruise industry's happy fest. Critics, complainers or independent thinkers stay away.
Cruising is safe, remarkably safe, the cruise executives say. Repeat after us - cruising is safe. It really is. Trust us.
Now can I sell you a discounted cruise to Mexico?