We were on the Carnival Destiny near Aruba when an elderly couple disappeared without a trace in early 2005. Investigations by authorities were delayed and incomplete. While on our Caribbean cruise, we were shocked by comments by the locals that crime was on the increase on all of the islands due to organized crime activity and the use of the Caribbean as a half way point for drug traffickers from South America and elsewhere. Local law enforcement was poorly trained, understaffed, and ill-equipped to handle the growing security threats. This added to the fact that there are no independent, trained, and experienced law enforcement on cruise ships creates a dangerous situation. A report just released by the Government Accounting Office validates our initial concerns. 87 individuals have fallen overboard since the year 2000 and most cases go unsolved; no thanks to the incomplete security provided by the cruise lines. http://www.cruisejunkie.com/Overboard.html
Last year was the worst with 22 and there have been 11 so far this year. Because of pressure from the families of victims and groups like http://www.internationalcruisevictims.org/
cruise lines have made limited changes to safety procedures and a few ships reacted quick enough to actually save victims. Congress has held several hearings but have taken no real action except to witness a last minute voluntary agreement with the cruise lines. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland, Chairman Says the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Will Give Cruise Lines Six Months or until from September 27, 2007 to Work Voluntarily with Coast Guard & FBI and Then Hold More Hearings. http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=112
See the COUNTDOWN CLOCK in the left hand column.
Project Safe Cruise will consist of a one week cruise in 2007 that will showcase the type of security and safety system that could be put in place by cruise lines to insure the safety and security of all passengers and crew and at the same time preserve evidence of crimes and/or accidents. On this Maiden Voyage we hope to offer short entertaining seminars and panel discussions by various security experts and perhaps some celebrities, on missing persons, identity theft, date rape, kidnapping, teenage and young child safety, security, and general health and safety issues while in other countries or at sea, investment scams for seniors, how to buy art work, etc. We must focus on a positive solution that will benefit all parties involved and prevent future tragedies. With the help of former FBI and NYPD law enforcement experts, we ask you to do this as a way of honoring the 87 people who have gone overboard since the year 2000. Most of whom are presumed dead. http://www.projectsafecruise.blogspot.com/
offers a possible solution.http://www.caribbeanpressreleases.com/articles/1992/1/US-Governmetnt-Report-on-Port-Security-in-the-Caribbean/Some-concerns-about-port-security-in-Caribbean.htmlCaribbean ports contain a variety of facilities such as cargo facilities, cruise ship terminals, and facilities that handle petroleum products and liquefied natural gas. Additionally, several Caribbean ports are among the top cruise ship destinations in the world. Given the volume and value of this maritime trade, the facilities and infrastructure of the maritime transportation system may be attractive targets for a terrorist attack.
Our prior work on maritime security issues has revealed that the three most likely modes of attack in the port environment are a suicide attack using an explosive-laden vehicle or vessel, a standoff attack using small arms or rockets, and the traditional armed assault. Beyond the types of facilities and modes of attack to be considered, officials we spoke to identified a number of overarching security concerns that relate to the Caribbean Basin as a whole.
Among these concerns are (1) the level of corruption that exists in some Caribbean nations to undermine the rule of law in these countries, (2) organized gang activity occurring in proximity to or within port facilities, and (3) the geographic proximity of many Caribbean countries, which has made them transit countries for cocaine and heroin destined for U.S. markets. Other security concerns in the Caribbean Basin mentioned by U.S. agency officials include stowaways, illegal migration, and the growing influence of Islamic radical groups and other foreign terrorist organizations.http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-07-804R
According to cruisebruise.com
"U.S. Virgin Islands are an Easy Terror Target: Cruise Ship Passengers At High Risk of Major Event"In a document titled, Towards a Homeland Security Strategy for the United States Virgin Islands: The Terrorism and Natural Disasters Planning Group, Martin J Alperen says, "The Virgin Islands (VI) is underprepared for major natural disasters and terrorism. Many emergency plans are incomplete, based on inaccurate information, wrongly optimistic, and assume an infrastructure that does not exist. The VI is at risk for a direct terrorist attack and also is subject to secondary consequences that could result from a stateside attack because virtually 100 percent of its food, fuel, medicine, oil to make electricity and potable water, and tourists -- the economy's lifeblood -- are imported. Other factors to be considered are as follows: (1) geographically, help is not readily available from any neighboring city or state; (2) the VI's first responders are likely to be affected by the same disaster they are responding to and will be unable to assist; (3) the VI must assume more of the emergency preparedness functions that would typically be shared between neighboring communities; (4) the VI must have more funding than similar communities on the mainland; and (5) preparedness planning must include the importing of mainland resources." He concludes, "The political system, law enforcement, and other infrastructure in the US Virgin Islands is dysfunctional at best and this prohibits meaningful law enforcement, homeland security, preparedness and response."
Virus outbreaks on cuise ships are an ongoing problem:http://www.cruise-bruise.com/cruise_epidemics.html
According to the USCDC there are five (5) ships each week with reports of Norovirus onboard.
That comes out to 260 ships a year. This rate is for 2006, and may be less or more in other years. In looking at the list of outbreaks for 2006, you will see, there are not 260 reports by ships of Norovirus. There are 36. Ships may have cases for many cruises, before the percentage of infected reaches a CDC reportable level.Security is also lacking for victims of sexual predators:
I have since learned that there have been no convictions for rape cases on cruise lines in four decades... Cruise industry executives testified last year before the House Government Reform Committee that 66 cases of sexual assault were reported from Royal Caribbean between 2003 and 2005. However, as a result of a civil lawsuit, Royal Caribbean was forced to turn over internal documents that showed that these numbers were actually much higher. Specifically, such cases had actually occurred 273 times over the three-year period in question. I have also come to learn that many of the crimes that were not reported involved minors. It seems impossible that Royal Caribbean would not consider these crimes worthy of reporting.
-Opening remarks of Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui on March 27, 2007 at the hearing that Exposed Cruise Industry’s Lax Responses to Crimes Committed Onboard its Shipshttp://matsui.house.gov/Newsroom.asp?ARTICLE2939=7897
Perfect Record: Not One Single Conviction for Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships in Four Decades
The inadequate security and safety practices still used by Cruise Lines have not even been able to put ONE sexual predator behind bars. Now what kind of luck will they have blocking attacks by terrorists and suicide bombers?
In addtion many of the crewmembers on cruise ships are from poor third world countries where terrorist groups exist. It is doubtful that the cruise lines spend enough money to obtain reliable background checks. Many of the crew has access to millions of paper and computer records containing highly personal data on passengers such as Social Security and credit card numbers, addresses, photos, possible face scans, etc. Wouldn't terrorists like to get their hands on that. Think of the damage that could be done. Safe Cruise: Are the Privacy and Security of Millions of American Cruise Vacation Customers at Risk?