Yesterday I read a press release by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) touting a "Cruise Industry Safety Tool Kit."
The kit is designed by CLIA to "educate and reassure" prospective cruise clients about safety at sea.
The materials contain brochures which can be customized with the travel agency’s name on the front and includes questions and proposed answers to provide to customers who may be skittish about cruising following the Costa Concordia disaster and highly publicized cruise ship fires on the Royal Caribbean / Azamara Quest and the Costa Allegra.
Unfortunately the CLIA materials are incomplete and misleading. Consider this proposed question and answer:
Q: Is cruising safe?
A: Absolutely. Cruising is extremely safe, and incidents are rare . . .
If you are a travel agent and tell your clients that cruising is "absolutely safe" in order to make a sale, and one of their kids is victimized by a crewmember, you can be sued for fraud.
CLIA also suggests that travel agents tell prospective cruisers that "as ships have grown larger, cruises have become safer than at any time in history." Considering the 32 deaths in the Costa Concordia just a few months ago (which CLIA is careful to omit), this may be another whopper that you may want to skip too. To make matters worse, CLIA’s casualty statistics end as of 2011 and do not include the Concordia victims.
The greatest omission from CLIA’s safety kit is there is absolutely no mention of crime. The greatest risk to a passenger is not the cruise ship catching on fire or sinking, it’s sexual assault – like a cruise employee molesting your child or your teenage daughters being sexually assaulted by a crewmember or older passengers.
Earlier this year we reported on a child supervisor who worked for many years on Cunard cruise ships who admitted to abusing at least 13 boys in and around the cruise ships’ play zones. We suspect that there are more victims than this.
There has been a vigorous debate in our U.S. Congress for the past six years about the frequency of crime on cruise ships. One cruise expert who testified several times before Congress stated that the chance of being a victim of rape on a cruise ship is twice that of being sexually assaulted in your home town.
The safety kit also has a section where CLIA recommends certain messages for travel agents to post on Facebook and "tweets" to post on Twitter under #cruisesafety. So far I have not seen any travel agents posting the CLIA info under this hashtag.
When interacting with your clients, the smartest thing a travel agent or cruise specialist can do is to disregard the CLIA propaganda. Here’s my safety tip to travel agents:
Be honest with your clients.
Anyone can Google "cruise ship crime" or "cruise ship fire" and read many hundreds of articles and see all types of disturbing images about all types of crimes and mishaps on cruise ships. Why tell a lie and lose your credibility, when your customers can find the truth about the dangers of cruising by a simple Google search?
"Cruise Safety Kit Logo" – Cruise Line International Association
Photo of Injured crewmember following Azamara Quest fire – IBN Live