CLIA Takes Steps to Battle Sensationalist Reports on Cruise Ship Crime
By Theresa Norton Masek
August 05, 2012 10:41 PM
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has been stepping up to battle perceptions created by consumer media, especially cable news TV programs, that cruise ships are rife with crime that often goes unreported to authorities. A number of sensationalist programs have aired this summer, including one on CNN, that have prompted CLIA CEO Christine Duffy to sound off in her new blog and to issue talking points to travel agents, of which CLIA counts 16,000.
“In recent weeks, a handful of biased industry critics continue to use the mainstream media to distort the cruise industry’s strong record on crime reporting and significantly overinflate the number of crimes occurring onboard cruise ships,” Duffy wrote in her July 12 blog. “Unfortunately, the media outlets reporting these stories do not include the perspective of agencies responsible for the enforcement of laws pertaining to crime onboard cruise ships -- and the sources of objective third party data -- the United States Coast Guard and the FBI. The result? Alarming statements, inflammatory accusations and unsubstantiated claims are made that have no basis in fact.”
Duffy followed that up with a list of talking points emailed to travel agents last week. She cites inaccuracies in an “Anderson Cooper: 360” report that aired July 9 on CNN. She discusses the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) passed in 2010 at the behest of families of people who disappeared from or were victims of crime on cruise ships. “The FBI, U.S. Coast Guard and renowned criminology experts have repeatedly affirmed before Congress the cruise industry’s strong record on security and crime reporting,” she said in the talking points.
CLIA also noted that reporting of crimes to the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard applies to any ship sailing to or from a U.S. port, and includes crimes committed by or against Americans on a foreign flagged vessel.
A list of cruise ship crime statistics is available on the U.S. Coast Guard’s website. However, the site only lists the cases that are closed by the FBI, not the number of alleged crimes reported to the FBI. According to these charts, there were just three cruise ship crime cases closed in the first quarter of 2012, 16 in 2011 and 35 in 2010.
A note explains that the cases listed are “no longer under investigation” by the FBI: “The number of matters ‘no longer under investigation’ provided on this Internet site is necessarily different than the aggregate number of matters required to be reported to the FBI…” That means the numbers do not include open investigations, pending prosecutions or reports that did not result in open investigations, such as lack of federal jurisdiction. Based on these statistics, it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of cruise ship crime, which often occurs outside of U.S. waters on ships registered in other countries, as compared to statistics on reported crimes on land. But CLIA clearly is out to show that sensationalist reporting of cruise ship crime has no basis in reality.