A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention today a disturbing story found in a cruise review on Cruise Critic. It's written by the mother of four sons who were sailing with a group of seven on the Carnival Freedom this month.
The review is titled Anarchy on the Freedom. Take a moment and read it. Mom's two oldest sons, age 22 and 19, were taunted in a nightclub and then viciously assaulted and beaten while they were trying to leave, by an adult and a group of teenagers. The older boy was "was attacked from behind, his hands held behind his back, struck several times on the head and ribs, kicked and then tossed down a flight of stairs . . . "
But Mom was not just concerned that her children were physically beaten but by the way that Carnival treated them afterward. She was given the run-around, lied to by security, refused the names of the assailants, denied a copy of the security report and told that there were no surveillance video. Her options were to either hire a lawyer or contact the FBI - neither particularly attractive options I am sure.
As outrageous as all of this sounds, this is the usual outcome when there is a brawl on a Carnival cruise ship.
I have attended seven Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. regarding cruise ship safety issues since December 2005. One of the recurring issues discussed before Congress is crime and the cruise lines' failure to respond to the problem.
Yes, you can have an awful lot of fun on a cruise. But there is no denying that crime occurs on cruise ships. The difference between land based crimes and shipboard crimes is that there is no sense of accountability on cruise ships. Lawlessness prevails.
The cruise industry states that the "safety of cruise passengers is its highest priority," but that is not remotely true. If you are a victim of a rape or a violent physical assault and battery during a cruise, there is well over a 95% probability that your assailant will not be arrested or prosecuted.
This is because there are no police officers or sheriff deputies on the high seas. The FBI technically has jurisdiction to investigate crimes involving Americans on cruise ships, even though the ships fly foreign flags of convenience and even when the crimes occur in international waters. But the truth of the matter is that the FBI is not interested in crimes on cruise ships. Fewer than 5% of cruise ship crimes are ever prosecuted by our federal government.
This leaves the matter of crimes in the hands of the cruise ship security personnel. Their job, however, is not to arrest anyone but to try and keep a lid on the problem until the cruise ship returns to port where they can get the warring parties off the ship and then re-rack for another 7 day drunken cruise to Mexico.
The International Cruise Victims organization has suggested that a law be passed requiring independent law enforcement officers aboard cruise ships, to investigate crimes and hold the bad guys accountable. The cruise lines have fought this vigorously.
The result is what unfolded this month on the Carnival Freedom.
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