After the Costa Concordia capsized, travel agents began telling their clients that such incidents were "rare" and that cruising was "absolutely safe." Some travel agents went as far as to claim that the last time a cruise ship sank was over a 100 years ago when the Titanic struck an iceberg.
Of course this was false. But the travel agents were repeating the talking points issued by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This was part of a campaign by CLIA to assure the public that cruising was safe and sound. You can read about the false and misleading campaign by the cruise industry here: Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash.
It seems like the cruise industry is now back at work spreading falsehoods again.
Following the vicious rape, beating and attempted murder of the 31 year old passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL's president Stein Kruse released a statement claiming that "no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."
Of course this is false too. Just last month a 18 year old girl was raped by an officer on the Amsterdam cruise ship, according to an article written by another lawyer here in Miami who represents victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.
The official Coast Guard portal also reveals that there recently have been reported rapes of women on HAL cruise ships, including assaults committed by crew members.
The sexual assault of women and children is a problem which the cruise industry avoids discussing. When pressed to mention the issue, the cruise lines always say that sexual assaults are "rare."
A year and a half ago, I wrote an article revealing 23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months. I have also mentioned that Royal Caribbean reportedly experienced 24 sexual assaults during the same year.
But the cruise lines will never acknowledge the true numbers. In its press releases, the cruise industry invariably fudges the numbers. The cruise lines were successful in altering the language of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act such that only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI needed to be disclosed to the public. The problem was that not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps most files open.
The result is that only a tiny portion of cruise ship crimes is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI for a 18 month period in 2011 and 2012, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
In addition to the cover-up of crimes, the cruise lines have been adept at keeping the cause of cruise ship disappearances secret.
HAL has been unable to explain why the last five passengers who disappeared from HAL cruise ships went overboard. Several of these passengers were women who disappeared from their cabins. HAL always seems to argue that the passengers committed suicide.
If the 31 year old woman recently victimized on the Nieuw Amsterdam had not fought her attacker off, and she disappeared during the cruise, what would HAL be saying about her now? Would it accuse her of committing suicide? Would the violent crime become just a "mystery?" A cruise line capable of a whopper like there-has-been-no-woman-attacked-for-140-years is capable of saying anything.
The cruise lines are relying on the CLIA travel agents to relay their false crime statistics and misleading opinions to the public. Travel Pulse just published "Agents: The Front Line In Telling the Real Cruise Story."
The travel publication says:
"Another week and another negative story hits the consumer media in regards to cruising. The latest issue involved a crewmember who is accused of raping and beating a passenger on board a Holland America Line charter.
It’s another challenge for the cruise lines, but an even bigger one for the travel agents who are on the front lines.
* * * *
Despite what you might see or hear in the consumer media, travelers should seek out the insights and advice of a professional travel agent. They’ll get the true story, and the real numbers, when it comes to that particular story." (Emphasis added)
So what is the "truth" that the cruise lines and travel agents want us to believe in order to buy cruises from them?
What is the "true story" about the HAL crew member who was, as the travel publication puts it, "accused" of "raping and beating" the passenger? He has already confessed to raping as well as beating, choking and attempting to murder the poor woman who he tried to throw into the sea.
And what are the "real numbers?" Do the travel agents really want us to believe that the last time a ship sank before the Concordia was the Titanic in 1912? And there had never been a prior rape of a passenger by a crew member on a HAL cruise ship for 140 years dating back to 1874?
A travel agent that repeats the tall tales and skewed crime statistics of the cruise lines to their clients, tells them to ignore the media stories (like CNN), and represents that cruising is absolutely safe has a good chance of being sued for fraud if their clients are victimized.
Photo Credit: Nieuw Amsterdam Wikipedia / Cybergoth