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!
In 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 that 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?