When I think of Disney Cruise Lines these days, the popular saying "the cover up is always worse that the crime" comes to mind.
I’m sure that I am not the only one who thinks that. Disney Cruise Lines’s conduct over the last nine months after the unexplained disappearance of Disney youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, has a number of people questioning Disney’s moral compass.
Just the other week, the Liverpool Daily Post blasted the headline "Shipping Minister Mike Penning Attacks Disney Over Missing Cruise Ship Worker Rebecca Coriam." The head of the U.K.’s shipping ministry remarked that Disney is "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."
Stephen Mosley, the MP of the city of Chester in England, where Rebecca is from, condemned the so-called investigation after young Rebecca’s disappearance as "appalling."
Perhaps the most insightful, and damning, look at Disney Cruise Line’s corporate culture is from an article by noted reporter Jon Ronson in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. Mr. Ronson’s investigative report, ‘Lost at Sea," is a must read if you are interested in the culture of a feel good corporation like Disney which chooses obfuscation rather than transparency and cover-up over truth to protect its brand.
Mr. Ronson, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and the best selling author of "Them" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," took a cruise last month aboard the Disney Wonder to take a hard look at the cruise line and cruise ship which are at the center of the mystery surrounding Ms. Coriam.
He quickly learned that the crewmembers on the cruise ship, although trained to maintain a happy I-don’t-know-what-you-are-talking-about disposition, apparently all knew where Ms. Coriam went overboard – the front of deck 5, at the crew pool.
"Disney knows exactly what happened," one crew member told Mr. Ronson. Referring to a telephone call Ms. Coriam had on the morning in question, the crewmember said: "It was taped. Everything here is taped. There’s CCTV everywhere. Disney have the tape."
Mr. Ronson also learned that Disney put flowers at the wall next to the crew pool, although it refused to answer any questions why – leading many crewmembers to become convinced that Disney knows what happened but is not telling anyone.
There is also the issue of a pair of flip-flops, found on a deck on the morning at issue. Instead of securing them as evidence and conducting forensic testing to determine whether there was any connection to Ms. Coriam, Disney instead placed them in her cabin when her parents got on board.
But family members and friends rejected the connection between the sandals and Ms. Coriam, finding them too big and not her style. Rebecca’s cabin mate, her intimate friend and other crewmembers were never asked to identify the flip-flops. Instead, it was as if Disney wanted Rebecca’s family to conclude that she must have slipped the sandals off before she voluntarily went overboard – even if it meant spoliating the evidence by moving the sandals from the open deck into her cabin, after-the-fact.
The article raises also the basic question of how someone can go overboard from the cruise ship without the CCTV cameras capturing the event. If Rebecca really went overboard at deck 5 by the crew pool, a crewmember confided: "there’s HR offices, the crew gym, the crew office that deals with passports, money, documentation. And they’re saying there’s no CCTV cameras?"
If Rebecca really went overboard at this location, it means that it occurred right below the bridge.
There is something not quite right on the Disney Wonder. If Disney knows why Rebecca went overboard, her family deserves to know the truth.
The Coriam family does not deserve Mickey Mouse games.
Top – Guardian newspaper
Bottom – davidstauffer.com