Tonight, the CNN Anderson Cooper AC360 program aired a short documentary into the issue of the safety of children on the high seas, entitled "Safe at Sea."
The program focuses on a fifteen year old girl sailing with her family on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2010. While her parents and siblings were at a different part of the ship, the young girl was in her cabin alone. A crew member in uniform uses a pass key and enters the cabin unannounced and violently forces her to perform oral sex.
Terrified and distraught, the child did not immediately report the crime to her parents.
Our investigation into other crimes against children on Royal Caribbean cruise ships led us to the court ordered production of an internal report by Royal Caribbean which concluded that sexual misconduct occurs "frequently." The report concluded that as many as one-third of women and children sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean cruise ships report the crime only after they have left the cruise ship and are back in the security of their home.
In this case, the parents informed the local police in California of the shipboard crime who found the child’s complaints to be "credible." The police forwarded the complaints to the FBI. The FBI investigation included collecting photographs of crew members selected by the cruise line which, not surprisingly, did not contain the predator’s photo. The family thereafter never heard back from the FBI.
The cruise line, however, paid a settlement to the child. On the CNN program tonight, the child (whose identify was protected for her privacy) stated that she felt the crew member was a predator and had done it before.
The program also contained an interview with a former U.S. Customs and Border official who stated that, in her experience, 85% of cruises contain at least one sexual predator on the cruise ship.
The cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), attacked the former federal employee and released a statement to CNN stating that:
" . . . . it is disconcerting that this individual would irresponsibly offer such inflammatory and unfounded accusations."
This, in a nutshell, is the attitude of the cruise industry and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean toward victims.
A fifteen year old child is sexually assaulted during a cruise. Yet, the cruise line and the cruise industry offer no apologies to the child or her family.
Instead, they attack those who dare to speak out in public about crimes on cruise ships.