From time to time, Cruise Law News will have a guest blogger. Caitlin Burke is our first guest author. Ms. Burke is a recent graduate from the University of Florida. She majored in Recreation, Parks and Sport Management. Ms. Burke wrote a senior honor’s thesis entitled a "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."
She is working as a case manager for Walker & O’Neill as she prepares for law school. We are lucky to have her at our firm. Ms. Burke addresses the danger of parents leaving their kids in child care facilities on cruise ships:
Don’t Lose Touch With Your Kid On Cruise Ships
A recent article, posted by a travel agent, entitled "Why Cruises are the Best Vacations with Kids," states several reasons why cruising with children is such a "great idea."
In theory, if all of the points were as fun-filled and squeaky clean as portrayed in the article, then yes, I would 100% agree that cruising with children is a great way to rid you and your better-half of all responsibility for your kids. After all, this is a "family" vacation and you’ve earned it. What better way to spend it then drinking booze and frolicking in the sun while your kids are conveniently being monitored by untrained, overworked staff?
Parents – Don’t Let Your Child Be A Cruise Crime Statistic
This article upsets me not because I think family vacation should indeed involve the whole family. But because this "have fun while your children spend the day in the child activity center" leads parents to believe (thanks to great advertisements) that their child is indeed being monitored by qualified staff members. After working at a small maritime law firm in Miami for only a couple months, I’ve already seen two cases involving minors who were sexually assaulted when they were supposedly being monitored at a teen activity center.
Let me restate this, 2 kids sexually assaulted in 2 months.
In my opinion, if this were to happen in a daycare or teen center anywhere in the U.S., it would be broadcasted nationally and investigated thoroughly. Everyone would be asking how did this happen? How did the adult get to the child? Who was suppose to supervise the the child? Was a background check conducted?
You better believe the media would be all over the story. But because the assaults occurred on a foreign cruise ship in international waters (not to mention an effective effort on behalf of the cruise line to keep the mater hushed up), the stories hardly get covered and few questions are asked.
Cruise lines are notorious for failing to conduct thorough background checks on employees. They are notorious for promoting the teen centers and advertising "just how safe they are." And they’re notorious for covering up sexual assaults and rapes on their cruise ships.
Responsible Parents Ask Questions Regarding Responsibility
So before you kick back, grab a cocktail, and float away into oblivion, take a moment and ask yourself a few questions:
1. Are the cruise line counselors who you are entrusting your kids to really qualified? Consider asking them – how long have they worked on the cruise ship, and what makes them qualified?
2. Will your children actually be supervised? Will they stay in the activities center? If they leave the center, will they be supervised? How many supervisors are there? Can the kids run wild on the ship?
3. Can your child use a walkie-talkie and be reached at all times?
4. Are older teenagers permitted to mingle with the 13 and 14 year olds? Are adults permitted into the centers?
5. Has any child been molested or sexually assaulted on the cruise ship?
Keep your guard up. Don’t let a cruise vacation of a lifetime turn into a nightmare.
Are you are interested in this issue? Then consider reading Jim ‘s blog entitled: Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships.
Would you like to be a guest blogger regarding issues of cruise safety? The rights of passengers and crew members? The protection of the environment from cruise pollution? Then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be our next guest blogger . . .