Travel Weekly published a rather fascinating interview by Arnie Weissmann of the CEO of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), Christine Duffy, entitled "Cruising at a Crossroads."
Over the past eight years, there have been eight Congressional hearings on important issues which have plagued the cruise industry, such as the suspicious disappearances of cruise passengers, sexual assaults of women during cruises and cruise excursions, and the under-reporting of crimes by the cruise lines. A number of victims have traveled to Washington D.C. over the past decade to testify about the crimes committed against them. Women from all walks of life have testified how they felt re-victimized by the cruise lines's refusal to believe them and promptly and accurately report the crimes to law enforcement.
But Ms. Duffy would not acknowledge a single victim in her interview. She dismissed the issue of cruise ship crime and other problems as consisting of "inaccurate assertions" or "false assumptions." She complained about the erroneous perception of the cruise lines created by "critics."
Ms. Duffy goes as far as to say that "crime is not really an issue that consumers or vacationers should be consumed about."
She characterized the cruise lines' lack of transparency in reporting crimes, which has been vigorously debated before Congress, as a "non issue."
Addressing Senator Rockefeller's proposals of removing the cruise industry's tax exemption and imposing a 5% excise tax, Ms. Duffy threatened the loss of U.S. jobs and families being unable to take fun and affordable vacationers:
"The cruise industry, like the rest of shipping, is mobile, and these bills would create an incentive to relocate those jobs and the economic activities that U.S. ports and communities get today. There may be places where those opportunities may be more favorable. So, yes, it would place jobs and economic benefits for the United States at risk."
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"Consumers who benefit from a vacation that is a very good value may not be able to otherwise take a vacation that would come close to the level of what's provided by a cruise. I think it's important for your readers and for consumers to understand that that gets put at risk, as well."
Ms. Duffy's blanket denials and browbeating show that the cruise industry is squarely on the defensive. Ignoring the stories of crime victims, CLIA demonstrates that it has no plans to bridge the gap between the cruise industry and cruise critics. And threatening to pull out of the U.S. while frightening families that they will be unable to afford cruise vacations, the cruise lines reveal that they have no clue how to deal with the public relations mess they find themselves in.
Photo Credit: Safety4Sea.com