Today we have another guest blog by Caitlin Burke who is a member of the International Cruise Victims organization and is interning at our firm. Caitlin’s blog last week – Better Safe Than Sorry – Spring Break Safety Tips – was named one of Lexblog’s Ten Best Blogs of 3,000 law blogs for the week!
Caitlin’s Cruise Blog:
So it’s safe to say I’ve been entrenched in "cruise law" for the past 7 months. Technically it’s been 1 year and 9 months if you count when I first became a member of International Cruise Victims and began working on my thesis. Point being- I’ve been working in the "cruise law" world for quite some time, and am intrigued by the number of times I am asked the same question –
"Would you ever cruise?"
I have made multiple presentations at universities and conferences, and following each and every presentation someone raises their hand to ask the notorious "would you ever cruise?" question.
I have undoubtedly had plenty of opportunities to tweak or shorten my answer to avoid extending an already exceedingly long conversation. So, in an attempt to squash future inquiries regarding my personal cruising practices (and hopefully conjure personal reflection and feedback from others), here are my thoughts on why I would and would not cruise:
(Note: I have been on one cruise in 2008, shortly before I began my senior thesis – "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships")
1. I currently choose not to take cruise vacations.
2. It’s not because I am terrified of what might happen to me. Yes, crime aboard cruise ships and in foreign ports is a large concern. But considering my day-to-day work (and general personality) it’s likely I would be overly paranoid and overly cautious. (Better Safe Than Sorry)
3. I understand the appeal of cruising and agree that it can be "the best bang for your buck." However, I personally cannot support an industry that I know acts unethically and immorally, with disregard for their crew members and passengers.
I know that my perspective might be slightly biased, and I willingly admit to such accusations. But putting my biases aside, the history of the cruise lines’ distasteful behavior is inarguable. And if you care to argue in the cruise lines’ defense I encourage you to read the following stories:
The story of Merrian Carver (right), a "missing" passenger and the cruise line’s desperate attempt to cover her disappearance up.
A 13-year-old girl on the Disney Wonder, sexually assaulted by a 24-year-old man who threatened to throw her overboard if she cried for help.
A woman, Laurie Dishman (below), celebrating 30 years of friendship raped by a security guard employed by the cruise ship.
To clarify – I am not against the idea of cruising and truly believe it can be an incredible and enjoyable experience. My hope is that the cruise lines begin to take responsibility, demonstrating an ethical business model that shows concern for their passengers and crew members aboard their ships.
Once I see this industry turn around, you better believe the sunscreen, bathing suits, and flip flops will be packed. Until then, I’ll stick to the companies I know and trust and steer clear of the high seas.
Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
Photograph 1 Ken Carver
Photograph 2 Sacramento Bee