Cruise lines say they take all proper precautions for the critical task of ensuring the safety of their passengers, but a ProPublica investigation has dug up examples of industry slip-ups.
To vet the cruise industry, the non-profit journalism organization cooked up a database, at projects.propublica.org/cruises, that is the easiest-to-grasp digital record yet of cruise safety.
It covers concerns such as the spread of illnesses like norovirus, the frequency of criminal activity, the safety of stairwells, and the risks of people falling overboard.
ProPublica includes a ship-by-ship accounting for about 300 vessels. For any specific ship he or she might sail, a traveler can see a track record dating back to 2010.
The database, compiled from disclosures by cruise lines to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other governmental organizations covers North America's best-known cruise lines. But it does not extend to ships in other regions, such as the Mediterranean or the South China Sea.
What's the most sensational statistic? Since 2010, ProPublica reports that at least 94 people have been sexually assaulted on cruise ships. But that statistic needs to be put in context: During that period, more than 80 million passengers safely sailed the seas.
ProPublica plans to continually update the data.
That's important because more data is expected to come to light soon. In 2014, a new US law requires that reports of crimes committed aboard cruise ships must be shared with the Department of Transportation website. ProPublica will scrape that data once it becomes available.
SEE: ProPublica's database, Cruise Control