Cruise Ship Crime Today I read a travel agency’s twitter feed "Safety for Children on Cruise Ships."  I am interested in this issue after representing 60 clients sexually assaulted on cruise ships, including children.

I was hoping to see some good safety tips in the article to keep children safe. Boy was I disappointed.  Not only were there no useful safety tips but the travel agents made the following comment:

 . . . most parents also like the fact that a cruise also allows you to spend some time apart from your kids, knowing that they are well taken care of.

Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity and many other cruise lines have special programs for children, supervised by crew members who are specially qualified and trained to work with kids.

Unfortunately, this is simply not true.

We have represented many families whose children have been molested by youth counselors on cruise ships.  Other children have been victimized by crew members or even other passengers when they were suppose to be under the supervision of the counselors.  Others have been taken into cabins by older teenagers and men and raped when they were trying to walk back to their cabins after the kid’s activities ended.  

Another dangerous situation is when parents leave their kids in the cabin to see a show, or they want to stay up late in the casino or disco. A cabin attendant can open the cabin door with his pass key when the parents are away. As I have said in a prior article, 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.  

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 Children - Molestation - Cruise Shipscomputerized 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. 

Many travel agents shy away from unpleasant facts.  But it is another thing to affirmatively represent that children are safe and crew members are "specially qualified and trained." 

Exactly what "special qualifications" does the crew member you entrust your child have?  Why don’t you ask the crew member before you drop your child off in the "kid’s club."  Don’t be surprised when they look at you with a puzzled face. 

If you are a travel agent reading this – do you think that you face liability if you make a representation that kids are safe to a client and a crew member molests your client’s child during the cruise you just sold?  I know the answer.  Do you?  

Before you make a false statement in the hope of making a sale, take a moment and read the following articles:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships 

Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" – Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships

Sexual Assault of Children on Cruise Ships – A Problem the Cruise Community Wants to Forget 

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

  • Justin

    Interesting site. I love cruises and I was a travel agent. 1st off as a travel agent I never promoted anything as “safe”. Cruising is a good family vacation but parents need to make sure that they stay with their children. My parents always took me cruising but we never went to the children’s club. It was a family vacation and we vacationed as a family. When I was a travel agent it seemed many families like to go away today together but then seperate. I don’t understand that. Nevertheless, parents should never allow their children to walk the halls and lounges alone on a cruise ship. Is cruising 100% safe absolutely not! Nothing is! But travel agents need to be realistic and not all travel agents get paid a commission as you article alludes. I was a travel agent that was salaried and always did my best to be real and put the needs of the traveler first.

    Also, with all due respect the cruise industry is not the only travel service provider with these problems. Club Med and other Caribbean resorts, for decades, have quietly had problems with forced entry and rapes. There was a couple years ago at a fancy resort in the Turks and Caicos raped at gun point. Also there has been many allegations of women being drugged at resorts in Mexico at the bars. Unfortunately, it is not confined to the cruise industry. The cruise industry is by NO means perfect however it is not the only travel industry with issues. I realize this site shows one view of the industry. I have cruised 30 times with no issues however people should never leave their gaurd down when they travel you should always be alert and aware of the situation around you and use common sense. Especially when in your cabin on a cruise ship, one should use the security lock provided so that no one can come in. Good luck and be safe.