Under a 2010 law, cruise lines are required to report to the FBI allegations of only eight serious crimes including homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. national, theft of money or property in excess of $10,000, kidnapping, certain sexual offenses, assault with serious bodily injury, firing or tampering with the vessel. There are two problems with the law: (1) lots of other crimes that might deter prospective passengers from traveling with a particular cruise ship are not included in the reporting requirements; (2) the statistics on the reportable crimes are only published by the Coast Guard after the investigation is closed, which is often months and years after the crime occurred. In fact, according to the Government Accountability Office, the release of data is so slow that only 81 cases of 287 reported crimes were actually made public from 2010-2013.
So if you are going to take a cruise, here are a few steps you should take:
1. Six cruise lines post online statistics about the serious crimes on their vessels. Of course, self-reporting is often skewed and the statistics are only for serious crimes, but it is a least another source of information to be used in conjunction with those provided by the Coast Guard;
2. Leave expensive jewelry and valuables at home to reduce the likelihood of being the victim of theft;
3. Do not overindulge. For some, alcohol tends to make them belligerent. For others, it tends to lower their guard making them at risk for assaults, sexually inappropriate conduct and other crime.
4. Report any misconduct to the ship’s crew members and demand the appropriate authorities at the next port of call be alerted.
If you have been the victim of a crime, you should know it may not just be the criminal who is responsible. Cruise ships and other businesses have a duty to prevent reasonably foreseeable crime. This may include a duty to adequately staff the boat, install surveillance cameras or appropriate safety measures or stop continued alcohol service to an intoxicated, belligerent passenger. If they fail to do so and the failure causes you to be victimized, you may have a claim.
At the Law Offices of John Day, we take a great deal of pride in the help we have provided crime victims. Because of our experience in the area, John Day has been asked to speak at The National Center for Victims of Crime. Click here if you would like to learn more about crime victim cases. Or, if you would like to talk with one of our award-winning lawyers, please contact us online or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.