For the first time oceangoing travelers can see what crimes are being reported aboard cruise ships operating in U.S. ports. The numbers compared with 2015 could make them seasick.
The number of reported sexual assaults on cruise ships jumped 550% in the first six months of 2016, going to 39 from six in 2015. Overall, reported crimes on ships jumped 408% to 61 from 12.
The dramatic increase doesn't mean cruise ships are more dangerous or violent than they were last year. But now, the public has access to reports of onboard crimes compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation that were not available in years past.
"The disclosure of crimes, and the FBI follow-up, are the most significant things we've accomplished,"
said retired Phoenix businessman Kendall Carver, founder and chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association, which has been fighting for a decade for passenger safety.
"It means you can finally see what crimes are occurring on these ships ... We can finally start getting valid numbers."
Legislation passed in 2014 required public disclosure of all serious crimes reported by cruise ships. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will adopt a system to put victims of crimes in contact with a federal agent while they are still aboard the ship.
"If you go back three years ago, when we raised the question with the FBI: 'What are you going to do if someone is raped on the high seas?' The answer was, 'Nothing,'" Carver said. "Now they are doing something."
Cruise industry representatives say that taking a cruise is safe and that a person is far more likely to be a victim of crime at home than aboard a ship. The Cruise Lines International Association, the largest cruise-line trade organization, said this week the crime statistics have been available to the public for years.
"There is nothing new here. This information has long been available to the public and voluntarily provided by cruise lines," public affairs director Elinore Boeke said in an email. "CLIA Cruise Line Members have publicly posted on their websites all allegations of serious crime since 2013. That information shows definitively that allegations of serious crimes on cruise ships are rare and a fraction of corresponding crime rates on land."
For reports on cruise ship accidents see at CruiseMinus.com