Whenever a news reporter covers a cruise ship fire, or a collision or sinking, or a sexual crime, or the disappearance of a cruise passenger or crew member from a ship, the reporter will ask how often these types of thing happen.
Cruise lines and the cruise trade group "Cruise Line International Association" (CLIA) will inevitably state that they don’t keep such statistics. They will quickly claim that such incidents are "rare." They will always say something grandiose like "the safety of our cruise passengers is our highest priority." You can interrogate a CLIA or cruise line spokesperson for hours but they will never provide cruise accident or crime statistics.
But there is one person who has a good idea how often cruise ship rapes, fires, and overboards occur. He is Professor Ross Klein. He operates a website called, humorously enough, "Cruise Junkie."
Dr. Klein is a sociologist at Memorial University in Canada. The Telegram newspaper states that professor Klein is "recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on the cruise ship industry."
For example, If you want to know how many people have disappeared from cruise ships in the last ten years, he has the startling information here. Or you can read that around 50,000 people on cruise ships reported sick due to illness outbreaks (norovirus, e-coli, etc.) in the last ten years.
Dr. Klein has been invited to attend a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. EST titled, "Cruise Industry Oversight: Recent Incidents Show Need for Stronger Focus on Consumer Protection."
He will testify as an expert witness about cruise ship practices and the frequency of fires, groundings, collisions, engine failures, and sanitation issues. Dr. Klein’s appearance was requested by the committee’s chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Dr. Klein has been a regular expert witness before Congress on the issue of cruise ship dangers. He appeared before the U.S. Senate in March 2012 after the Costa Concordia disaster last year. You can read his comprehensive written testimony before the Senate last year here.
Dr. Klein also testified before the Senate committee in 2008 and before a House of Representatives committee in 2007 on cruise ship issues.
I have attended the last seven Congressional cruise hearings. have watched Dr. Klein testify in person three times before Congress on important issues regarding passenger safety.
While the cruise lines are quick to always say that mishaps are "rare" and make happy talk that the cruise industry is dedicated to the health and safety of its passengers, Dr. Klein is the one person who will bring actual facts to the hearing. Senator Rockefeller trusts him to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the cruise industry.
The testimony will be broadcast live via streaming video. You can locate the website info for the live video here.
Photo by Jim Walker