No. Are cruise ships perfectly safe? Again, no. The truth lays between these two extremes. The mission of the CruiseSafely team is to research the risks and provide you the information you need to made an informed decision about whether or not a cruise is for you.
The majority of the articles on CruiseSafely.com are written by our team, while some are curated from news articles and other online sources. On 22nd of May we posted an article, How safe are cruise ships? Check results for food, crime, from the Florida Today newspaper. This article (and another posted a week later about Port Canaveral) were based on a study done by the nonprofit public interest website ProPublica.org. These two articles presented a fair and balanced report of select information contained in the study.
The internet is a wonderful thing. It brings up to date information like the Pro Publica study to our finger tips. However, information stays on the internet until it is removed from the website or the website is closed. So information about an event ten years ago, may appear to be current. Another consideration is that unlike traditional newspapers that confirms stories from two reliable sources, anyone can say what ever they want on a website and people will believe it.
Researching Safety Tips
It takes a great deal of research to prepare articles for this website and to find published articles that are worthy of being curated. While doing this research, we often come across published items that distorts information or puts a spin on things to reflect personal views or maybe to create headlines. A New Orleans news site used the same headlines as the Florida Today report just adding New Orleans to the title.
Their article painted a different image of cruising. About the Carnival Elation they said “Crimes were reported on this ship every month in 2013, including 28 passengers arrested for fugitive warrants.” Since only serious crimes are reported, this projects a very disturbing problem of safety and security. If you go back to the Pro Publica report, things do not look so bad. First, the 28 passengers arrested for crimes were arrested before boarding the ship for crimes committed before taking a vacation. Remember, Home Land Security runs a security check on the passenger and crew manifest.
If you take out those 28 arrests, there is only one left. An arrest for a drug offense. There were no serious crimes shown for that year aboard that ship reported to the FBI. The article also belittles another cruise ship citing; “On several occasions, passengers fell while navigating the boat, breaking their hands, wrists, forearms, ankles and even their teeth one time.” Again, a look at the record showed that one case was a child running down the steps and missed the last one. Another case happened in a stateroom while a woman was unpacking, the heel of her shoe caught on a bed spread and she fell. Another case, a woman fainted going down an escalator, she fell forward into the passenger in front of her, making that person fall and they became injured. It is all in the presentation. People fall on land for the same reasons.
The Cruise Ship Virus
The cruise ship virus, a term that makes most experienced cruisers cringe. Not so much from the virus, but from the fact that most people call Norovirus by that name. Norovirus is a highly contagious viral infection. It is the most common virus in the United States. The CDC requires cruise ships to report outbreaks and each year several cruise ships will have outbreaks. When outbreaks happen, the media pick it up and talk about how many were stricken by the cruise ship virus. The fact is- only 1% of outbreaks happens on ships. Schools, medical facilities, and prisons are at the top of the list. Your child is 750 times more likely to catch the Norovirus infection at school then on a cruise.
A recent headline screamed “Norovirus Spreads by Air on Cruise Ships.” A Canadian study show that the Norovirus can be spread by air. The article blasted the cruise line industry for misleading passengers into thinking it was spread by contact. The thing is, it was the CDC that said it is spread by contact and this is the first study to suggest otherwise. Perhaps the writer is biased against cruise lines because the studies title is “Detection and Quantification of Airborne Norovirus During Outbreaks in Healthcare Facilities.” Nowhere in the study are cruise ships mentioned.
There are many websites out on the internet that talk about cruise ship safety. Some of them are very good, we know ours is the best. Some websites are slanted towards a cause, painting cruise lines and cruise ships in a negative light. Others are slanted towards the cruise ships are perfect.
We know that cruise ships provided a safe environment for a vacation, just as we know nothing is perfect and you need to keep your guard up. When you read something on another website or in a newspaper, read it carefully. Do not accept it as gospel, look into the details and follow the old newsmen strategy, get two reliable sources.