Crime and Cruise Ships
The cruise ship industry is one of the largest entertainment ventures in the world. The companies take in a staggering $35.7 billion annually by allowing tourists the opportunity to kick back in an environment of tropical relaxation set around sumptuous dining, fruity cocktails, and exciting gambling. But it’s this very backdrop of freewheeling, anything-goes fun that leads to problems when this behavior is set on the high seas, where there’s an ambiguous or even non-existent sense of international jurisdiction and a complete lack of police enforcement.
Crime on cruise ships has become a serious problem, especially as the industry continues to grow and become more and more popular. And while crime continues to be quite rare, it is still an issue. The limited security on cruise ships allows thieves to ply their trade virtually uninhibited, and many people may not know they’ve been robbed until they get back home and unpack. The carnival atmosphere on cruise ships make theft a surprisingly easy proposition for the professional. Back when ships were the primary means of transport across the Atlantic, there were certain thieves who rode back and forth on the ships, taking advantage of their wealthy fellow travelers. The same problem is beginning to emerge again today.
But theft is not the only potential criminal danger lurking on cruise ships. Rape and other sexual crimes, as well as physical assault, are not unknown on cruise ships. Because many of the cruise ships travel between several countries and therefore jurisdictions, there is only a loose voluntary agreement in place to report such serious crimes to the FBI. And, as many critics of the system point out, reporting such dangers is hardly in the best interests of a company that makes its money on tourism.
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times from June 18 of 2008, California’s Assembly Judicial Committee voted 7 to 1 in favor of requiring cruise ships operating out of California to have a mandatory, trained peace officer on board, to be paid for by a $3 fee for each passenger. The industry hired lobbyist groups to help oppose the measure.
All this being said, though, most cruise experiences are fun and exciting, and no more dangerous than anything else in life. But, as always, it’s helpful to be aware of the dangers so that you are prepared in the case of their eventuality. Keep an eye out on your valuables, always lock the doors, and behave responsibly, and your trip should be as safe as it is fun.