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How common are accidents on cruise ships?

No one knows for sure. Cruise lines have little incentive to report accidents that mar the public picture of trouble-free fun and relaxation on a fantasy vacation. Even federal law adopted to compel cruise ship owners to report accidents has had little effect.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise lines to report major crimes and accidents that occur onboard their ships, including:

  • Homicide.
  • Suspicious death.
  • Missing U.S. national.
  • Kidnapping.
  • Assault with serious bodily injury.
  • Setting fire to (arson) or tampering with the vessel.
  • Theft of money or property in excess of $10,000.
  • Rape and certain other sexual offenses.

A federal government report said in January 2014 that the 2010 law has resulted in less than a third of alleged offenses being made public. Reports that were made had been delayed by months or years, the General Accounting Office said. These are major injuries; cruise lines have no obligation to report less-serious accidents.

This reporting failure prevents passengers from making informed decisions prior to booking cruise vacations, the GAO said, according to NBC News.

One interesting website by a sociology professor from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada is Cruise Junkie. The site documents reports of “Events at Sea” on an almost daily basis, including running aground, capsizing, “sanitation” problems, sexual assault, fire and more.

Posted in: Cruise Ship Accident FAQs