A Canadian newspaper reports that a crew member from Indonesia will soon find out whether he will serve additional jail time for possession of child pornography. Crew member Hendri Dharmawan, age 29, was working as a pastry chef on the Carnival Triumph when he was arrested September 1 in Halifax. He has been in a Nova Scotia jail for the past five weeks after pleadings guilty to the child porn charges.
The crew member was caught with pornography on his iPhone as he returned to the Carnival cruise ship. The border police then accompanied him back to his cabin where they discovered over two hours of child pornography on Dharmawan’s laptop and external hard drive. The footage depicted girls as young as eight and boys as young as 10 being abused.
This type of story should serve as a wake up to parents who take their children on cruises. Yes, there are sexual deviants and predators on cruise ships. We have had too many cases where unsuspecting parents leave their kids in the cabin when they go to the casino, or stay late at the disco. While the parents are gone, a cabin attendant enters the cabin with his pass key. Let’s skip the details. Trust me, leaving a 12 year old boy or his 14 year old sister alone in a cabin is a bad idea.
Cruise lines suggest that the crew members are carefully screened before they are hired. Nonsense. First of all, the cruise line themselves do not perform background checks at all. They rely on the hiring agents around the world to perform all of the "screening." But what type of background check can be performed in countries like Nicaragua, Trinidad, or India? These places do not have computerized databases for drivers licenses or social security numbers much less a database for criminals or a tracking system for sexual predators. Many of the hiring agencies who are suppose to be conducting background checks are paid commissions when they place employees on cruise ships. There is a disincentive to keep the bad apples off of the cruise ships.
If a crew member molests your child on the cruise ship, don’t expect the cruise line to believe your child. Cruise lines have a notorious and well earned reputation of covering up crimes. Their priority too often is defending the crew members and their own marketing image.
There is also the danger of other passengers abusing your children. A cruise ship presents the same dangers as your home town. You can read about the problem of sexual assault of teenagers and child abuse during cruises here.