Yesterday one of my clients, who I will call Jane Doe, contacted me after receiving an unsolicited email from the President of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Adam Goldstein.
The e-mail addressed her by her first name. It seemed to be personalized to her. It recognized her as a past customer and contained statements like:
"At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships."
President Goldstein's email outraged Jane Doe. You see, she had just returned home with her young daughter who had been raped on President Goldstein's cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.
Goldstein's unsolicited email to a rape victim's mom had nothing to do with the humiliating shipboard rape suffered by Jane Doe's daughter, one of many rapes of children on the Royal Caribbean fleet over the years. Instead, it was part of this cruise line's media campaign to try and distance itself from the negative fall out following the deadly Costa Concordia disaster.
Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line making such public statements following the Concordia crash. You can watch Royal Caribbean's slick video touting the safety of cruising here. President Goldstein's blog is here. "Safety is in our DNA." "Cruising is the safest form of transportation." "The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority." Royal Caribbean covered all of the cruise industry's talking points in its video, the president's blog and its e-mail blast below.
Of course, in truth, Goldstein's email was not a personalized message to Jane Doe. He does not know her from the man in the moon, even though her daughter was raped on the cruise line's showpiece megaship and the biggest cruise ship in the world.
Royal Caribbean spammed Goldstein's email to every single family who had sailed with them. This was an intentional and reckless stunt, considering that hundreds of women and children have reportedly been sexually assaulted during Royal Caribbean cruises over the years. Certainly, the cruise line knew that its former customers who are victims of crime, and whose names remain in its customer database, would feel salt being poured into their wounds upon reading Goldstein's email in their personal email accounts.
Insensitive & thoughtless, if not outrageous? Definitely. But Goldstein is not thinking of his customer's feelings. He is motivated by his cruise line's bottom line. He wants to reassure his customers that it is safe to return to cruising, whether that is true or not.
This is hardly the first time this has happened.
In 2006, one of my clients, Laurie Dishman (photo right), was brutally raped by a part time Royal Caribbean security guard with a prior record of sexually harassing passengers. She retained us to represent her. I sent a handful of letters to President Goldstein, asking for our client's medical records, her statement, and the name and address of the Royal Caribbean employee who raped Laurie. We received nothing in response. Goldstein ignored us.
The only things Laurie initially received from Royal Caribbean were unsolicited emails inviting Laurie to return for another "cruise of a lifetime" on a Royal Caribbean ship. The emails continued for over a year. Each email popping into her computer's email in-box took Laurie back to the scene of the crime and reactivated a sense of panic and stress. It was only after a half dozen letters of protest from us, and a Congressional investigation into the crime initiated by Laurie's Congresswoman in 2007, that the cruise line scrubbed her from its marketing database.
We pleaded for Royal Caribbean to implement a system to remove a passenger's information from the company's marketing database whenever a passenger was raped, killed or lost a loved one overboard during a cruise. Believe me, cruise vacationers don't want promotional brochures in their mail boxes after a family member has been raped or lost at sea.
It looks like Royal Caribbean ignored that request too.
President Goldstein's blog talks in grandiose terms about the Costa Concordia crash being a "defining moment" for the cruise industry. He promises a renewed commitment to passenger safety. Let's hope that's true.
But when a cruise line president sends an e-mail blast to the mother of a child raped during a cruise, you wonder whether cruise line executives like Goldstein really get it.
Adam Goldstein - Royal Caribbean Flickr page
Laurie Dishman - Sacramento Bee
ROYAL CARIBBEAN EMAILS ADAM GOLDSTEIN'S LETTER TO MILLIONS OF CRUISE CUSTOMERS:
All of us at Royal Caribbean International continue to extend our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by Carnival Corporation's recent tragic incident on the Costa Concordia. As a Crown & Anchor Society member and loyal Royal Caribbean guest, we know you may have some questions as the situation continues to unfold.
At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships. The measures we take in the interest of safety are many, often exceeding the regulatory requirements – these are all part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and continuous improvement in every aspect of our business.
To address some of your questions and concerns, here is a video that will provide an overview of safety onboard our ships; the training of our crew, officers and captains; and the many regulations that govern our practices. Click here to watch.
As a past cruiser, we know your friends and family may be asking about your own time at sea. We hope that you'll share this video along with your personal Royal Caribbean experiences with them, and reinforce that cruising continues to maintain the best safety record of any industry in travel.
Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon on one of our ships sailing to 270 destinations worldwide.
President and CEO
Royal Caribbean International