Cruise lines hate U.S. governmental scrutiny of their business operations.  

The whole purpose of incorporating their businesses and flagging their cruise ships in foreign countries is to avoid U.S. taxes and the scrutiny of federal regulators. This business model permits the cruise lines to pay virtually no U.S. taxes and to avoid U.S. wage, labor and safety laws. Cruise lines often conceal shipboard crimes and the industry’s abuse of crew members.

But one U.S. Senator, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is taking the cruise lines’ lack of transparency head on. Following Carnival’s string of disabled cruise ships and nonchalant attitude towards its quests, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Carnival billionaire cruise CEO Micky Arison in March, inquiring into issues pertaining to the cruise line’s avoidance of taxes as well as issues regarding the safety of cruise passengers. You can read the letter here

Carnival’s letter back to Rockefeller dodged and weaved and argued and mostly avoided responding to Senator Rockefeller’s concerns. Carnival refused to disclose, for example, the number of victims of sexual assault – a topic that the cruise lines strenuously try to avoid talking about.  We summarized Arison’s defiant attitude in our article: Carnival CEO Arison’s Letter to Senator Rockefeller: Screw You!

Undaunted, Senator Rockefeller has sent another letter to Arison and has also sent letters to the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises (Richard Fain) and Norwegian Cruise Lines (Kevin Sheehan).

NCL Cruise CEO Kevin SheehanIn his letters yesterday, the Senator is inquiring into the internal safety audits which the cruise lines and the cruise association are allegedly conducting. At the recent cruise trade show on Miami Beach, the Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL cruise executives talked at length about their ability to learn from their own internal investigations but never stated that they would release the reports from the investigations.

This is the usual cruise line ploy: assuring the public that they are busy at work investigating themselves after cruise ships sink or catch on fire; however, they never ever disclose the results of their alleged investigations. Carnival said that it was conducting an internal audit of its operations after the Carnival Splendor was disabled after an engine room fire in 2010.  But Carnival has never released the results of its investigation. The public remains in the dark.

Senator Rockefeller is also again demanding that the cruise lines disclose the number of crimes, particularly sexual assault, on cruise ships. The cruise industry has been notoriously dishonest in revealing accurate crimes statistics. It usually defaults to conclusory, self-serving opinions that crime is "rare" while simultaneously concealing the true crime statistics.

At a prior Congressional hearing, Royal Caribbean responded to a Congressional inquiry by stating Royal Caribbean Cruise CEO Richard Fainthat 66 women were raped during a three year period.  But in a court case we handled, the cruise line was ordered to reveal that the actual number of such crimes was much higher.

The LA Times reported on the cover-up in an article: Cruise Industry’s Dark Waters.   

Royal Caribbean faced no consequence for misleading Congress back in 2006.  

The cruise lines’ response to Senator Rockefeller in due on May 24th.  

Will RCCL CEO Fain and NCL CEO Sheehan be transparent? Or will they join Arison in a game of hide and seek?

  • laukik sansare

    Respected sir, my name is laukik,i was ex-crew member of norwegian cruiseline,i do want to share my story with you people just to know myself if i am right or wrong,

  • Kay


    The campaign by private interests closely tied to the government of Belize to introduce cruise ships to southern
    Belize dates back to 2010. At that time a proposal by investors tied to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to establish
    Placencia as port of call was successfully rebuffed by area residents. Two years later a new version of the same
    proposal, this time allegedly more “Placencia friendly” was floated to a group of tour guides but was never
    introduced or debated publicly.

    In early 2013 a much larger proposal was made to the government by Norwegian Cruise Line. This project,
    backed by the same official who pushed the first two, called for NCL to purchase Crawl Caye, an island off the
    Belize coast where its largest ships could dock and passengers frolic on the beach as well as embark for tours
    on land and sea. NCL’s total investment was said to be in the range of US$50 million and the cruise line
    heralded the investment as one that would bring jobs and prosperity to an economically depressed area of the
    country and significant revenues to a cash strapped government.

    While cabinet, under pressure from environmentalists, turned down the proposal for Crawl Caye on the
    grounds that it was in a marine reserve that formed part of a World Heritage Site, it endorsed the project if a
    more suitable location could be found. Immediately NCL announced plans to purchase Harvest Caye, a 70 acre
    island less than 3 miles south of Placencia Village just off the mainland. Following cursory study by a cabinet
    subcommittee (half of whose ministerial members never showed up for meetings) cabinet agreed to a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with NCL that granted the company unprecedented fiscal incentives
    and tax breaks.

    Details of a formal agreement are being drafted while NCL refines plans for its purchase of the island, its
    dredging and filling as well as construction of its berthing and recreational facilities. It plans to have Harvest
    Caye ready for action by the 2015/2016 cruise season.

    The authors of this document, a broad coalition of tourism and environmental groups from around the country, believe that the introduction of mass cruise tourism—or any type of
    mass tourism—to southern Belize represents nothing less than an invitation to disaster.