The Safest Cruise Ships at Sea

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Selecting the Best Cruise Ship for You

Looking to book a cruise this summer for you and the family? It is easy to get seduced by the lure of exotic ports with sandy beaches, prepaid drink packages, and thrilling water slides--but I would recommend first taking a few minutes to see just how safe the cruise line you’re considering is by visiting the sobering United States Coast Guard’s website, where cruise line incidents are published.

Cruise Ships are Like Floating Cites

Many crimes on cruise ships go unreported and therefore are not necessarily publicized, except for those cruise ships that sail to and from US Ports--such as Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, or the Port of Miami--because the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requires that those cruise lines report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all missing persons and certain alleged criminal activity. The US Coast Guard then publishes a quarterly report without regard to the investigative status of the incidents.

Of the 92 alleged on-board crimes reported by cruise lines in 2016, 62 were sexual assaults; most terrifyingly, nearly one third of sexual assault victims on cruise ships are reportedly minors. Criminal prosecution is complicated and rarely occurs, especially when jurisdictional issues arise over the rapes occurring in international waters or committed by foreign passengers and on cruise ships that are often registered under flags-of-convenience, such as the Bahamas or Malta.

Check the Coast Guard’s Report Online Before Setting Sail

The last published Coast Guard report was issued on April 27, 2017, and not surprisingly the world’s two largest cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, had the most documented reports of crime. For the period of January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017, Carnival reported a total of 10 criminal events compared to Royal Caribbean's 11.

Specifically, Carnival Cruise Lines reported 2 missing US passengers, 1 passenger assaulted with a serious bodily injury, 6 passengers and 1 crew member as victims of sexual assault. RCCL reported 1 kidnapping, 1 passenger assault with serious bodily injury, 3 crew members reporting theft over $10,000, 4 passengers and 2 crew reporting being victims of sexual assault. This may seem to some as a trivial amount, but bear in mind this is for only one quarter (three months), and other cruise lines, such as RCCL’s subsidiary cruise line, Celebrity, had no reported crimes.

Keeping Your Family Safe Aboard a Cruise Ship

My most important advice to anyone who is considering booking a family cruise this summer is to realize the duty we each have not to abandon our sense of personal responsibility, by always being aware of our situational surroundings, the environment, who we are with, and what we are doing. It is very important not to over-consume alcohol--which is difficult to avoid when on vacation and while participating in prepaid beverage plans that the cruise lines intensely market--and to keep an eye on minor children at all times.

While parents may want to disconnect and enjoy themselves, allowing children teenaged or younger simply to roam freely about a cruise ship at any hour without adult supervision is unwise and, as the statistics indicate, dangerous.