The last major poll on the opinion of cruise ship travelers didn’t fare so well for Carnival. A Harris Poll, taken a few months after the Triumph cruise ship fire, revealed America’s trust in the cruise line – and others as well – had severely declined. Our cruise lawyers weren’t very shocked to learn this bit of news, because, after all, the Triumph accident was one of the most highly publicized cruise accidents in the world and was evidence that the industry 1) does not have proper maritime safety features in place, and 2) doesn’t seem to want to cater to victims.
But while it’s been nearly a year since that fateful day in February when the Triumph became disabled, a new poll has been all the rage, but this one has targeted younger cruisers and the questions themselves are not your typical questions about a cruising experience.
Virgin Cruises asked a group of 18-24-year-olds how they would react in certain situations while onboard a vessel. One would think they would ask what they would do to communicate with loved ones in the event of an emergency or how they would most likely avoid dangerous situations, but the questionnaire took a little bit of a bizarre twist.
The cruise company asked the surveyors what they would do when an emergency strikes, but the questions targeted their reaction to a pirate invasion, if they would pretend to mimic Leonardo DiCaprio’s “King of the World” performance from the movie “Titanic”, and several other strange and otherworldly questions.
But as much as the questions were strange to say the least, some answers were uncovered and they weren’t very pleasant. According to the questionnaire’s results, most of the people surveyed wouldn’t lift a finger to help fellow passengers in danger.
According to the survey:
- 81% of people would just let an invading pirate seize the ship’s treasure and wouldn’t try to defend the ship – or its passengers.
- 77% wouldn’t help a crew member load cannons to fire at enemy ships
- And worst of all – a whopping 87% WOULDN’T let women and children board the lifeboats first.
Seems like there isn’t much of a sense of camaraderie among younger cruisers. The answers got even weirder when Virgin Cruises asked the surveyors which famous ship they would most like to travel on and 34% said the Titanic. Seeing as how the ship’s fate has been well-documented for the past 100 years, we wonder if this younger crowd is even paying attention to what’s going on in the cruise industry these days.
Ah, kids these days. Are they oblivious to the perils at sea cruise ship travelers face? Have they not watched the news and heard reports of the hundreds of overboard passengers that have disappeared over the past decade? Are they simply uninterested or do they truly fail to see the gravity of the current state of the cruise industry?
We can’t tell for sure what the answers to these questions would be, but perhaps this disillusionment with helping other passengers through rough times stems from little knowledge of what really goes on behind cabin doors on any given cruise ship on any given day.
For many years, cruise ships were able to get away with not reporting and/or underreporting accidents and crimes, not only to the public, but to federal authorities as well. This, in our opinion, appears to have led the public to believe there have been significantly fewer incidents than there really have been, making it seem as though ships are safer than they really are.
Only recently did U.S. Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller introduce the Cruise Ship Passenger Protection Act of 2013, which requires cruise lines to increase transparency when it comes to reporting accidents and crimes to authorities and the public, but so far, it appears that only a few lines have complied.
The major lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney have allegedly stepped up to the plate and aired their dirty laundry, but that’s only four of a long list of cruise companies that have yet to be fully transparent. And if we are being honest with ourselves, there’s still no telling whether or not the reports that have been released by these particular cruise lines was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If not, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a cruise line has withheld information regarding an accident or crime in order to avoid liability for its role in the incident.
Because most cruise ships are registered in foreign countries and fly foreign flags, they have been able to avoid U.S. maritime laws, and U.S. taxes, for decades. In the end, these countries are much more lax when it comes enforcing maritime laws and are much less inclined to investigate incidents or even report back to victims with information on the accident or crime. Why? Well these foreign flags are known as “flags of convenience,” which in our eyes, means it’s convenient for the cruise company because of little or no regulation, and it’s convenient for the foreign country because the cruise line pay them big bucks to fly these flags.
For years, our cruise lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have hoped the U.S. government would become more involved in the cruise industry and now they are finally beginning to. The perfect model for regulation is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) which tightly governs all airlines with the singular goal of protecting the passenger. So why not do the same with cruise ships!?
As long as ships continue to fly their “flags of convenience”, we won’t get a truly honest account of what happens onboard when someone gets hurt or disappears.
Published on January 21, 2014
Categories: Maritime Matter of the Week