Travel Columnist Says No to Cruises … Potential of disease, accident & crime, No Cruise for You


Its one thing for Scared Monkeys or another cruise line watch-guard group rails on the Cruiseboatcruise industry for its putting profits ahead of safety and sanitary conditions. or the fact that so many missing persons cases and crimes aboard cruise ships have gone unsolved and unreported. However, when travel columnist Joel Widster writes a story like this it should really make the cruise industry stand up and take notice: Take a cruise? No thanks, not me. ‘Potential of disease, accident, crime enough to keep columnist off high seas’. This is hardly a glowing commentary for the cruise line industry. In fact, it is a endorsement to never step foot on a cruise ship.

But after the recent rash of stories about such cruise-industry problems as noroviruses, missing passengers, pirates and sinkings, I think my chances of taking a cruise are now slim to none.

Am I being too hard on the cruise industry? Are the stories all overblown? I don’t think so. In fact, I think my landlubber resolve is well warranted. I am concerned about both health and safety aboard ship. I also think cruising is costly, inconvenient and environmentally unfriendly. (MSNBC)


Joel Widster refers to cruise ships as bacterial filled tubs as the noroviruses appear to to popping up too frequently and the conditions on cruise ships make it that much more commonplace. Check on the web site that tracks illnesses aboard cruise ships.

… cruise ships are frequently affected by outbreaks of norovirus because they dock in countries where sanitation can be poor and because the tight quarters aboard ship facilitate transmission of the virus. Further, the boarding of “new and susceptible passengers every 1 or 2 weeks” creates a condition where the disease can be sustained over successive cruises; in fact, the CDC says that outbreaks extending beyond 12 successive cruises have been reported.

George Smith, the missing honeymooner, aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise in 2005 also George smith RCgets a mention in this article. The number of missing persons and crimes aboard cruise ships is staggering.

Another pressing but often unreported problem is the rising incidence of sexual assault on board cruise ships. During a March 2007 Congressional hearing, Professor Ross Klein of Memorial University of Newfoundland, who monitors the cruise industry, used the industry’s own numbers to demonstrate that cruise passengers may have a 50 percent greater chance of being sexually assaulted aboard ship than on land. According to the International Cruise Victims Organization, many incidents of shipboard sexual assault go unreported because passengers “often feel alone and frustrated by the jurisdictional uncertainties and poor treatment by cruise companies.”

Update: Isn’t this priceless … Royal Caribbean is blaming their passengers for norovirus. So much for the customer always being right. In Royal Caribbean’s case … the customer is always to blame. There’s a nice PR slogan.

Royal Caribbean’s new Liberty of the Seas will dock at the Port of Miami Saturday with sick passengers on board.

Since the ship set sail on its Caribbean vacation last Saturday, 172 of the ship’s 3,846 guests and 10 of its 1,425 crew members have experienced the illness, thought to be a Norovirus brought onboard by a guest previously exposed to it.

A spokesperson from Royal Caribbean said those “affected by the short-lived illness responded well to over-the-counter medication administered onboard the ship.” (Local 10)

(Hat tip: RR)

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  • Comments

    14 Responses to “Travel Columnist Says No to Cruises … Potential of disease, accident & crime, No Cruise for You”

    1. bandit on June 2nd, 2007 5:07 pm

      I’ve taken many cruises and would go on one again tomorrow.
      Yes, I did have a novovirus once while on a ship but don’t think I got it on the ship.

    2. Scared Monkeys on June 2nd, 2007 5:24 pm

      So who in the cruise industry ran over this guys dog? Or did they just not comp his tickets this year?

    3. Scared Monkeys on June 2nd, 2007 6:10 pm

      This is probably the more important stat of the article:  

      Another pressing but often unreported problem is the rising incidence of sexual assault on board cruise ships. During a March 2007 Congressional hearing, Professor Ross Klein of Memorial University of Newfoundland, who monitors the cruise industry, used the industry’s own numbers to demonstrate that cruise passengers may have a 50 percent greater chance of being sexually assaulted aboard ship than on land.

      That is an eye raiser.


    4. on June 2nd, 2007 7:48 pm

      I’m with Bandit! I’d go on a cruise any time.
      But which cruise line you choose can be one secret and how you monitor yourself can be yet another.

      First and foremost, no question that Norovirus runs on Cruise ships. And indeed it usually is the passengers’ fault. How many public restrooms do you visit where you notice people that don’t wash their hands? Next, put those people in a buffet line and you have a big problem.

      Watch what you eat and where you eat. Also wash your hands almost obsessively. Use the hand sterilizers provided.

      As far as assaults watch where you go and never drink to the point that you can’t be totally aware of everything about you.

      It is concerning the way that cruise ships teach their staff to deny anything bad that goes on. Who you cruise with becomes pretty important.

    5. joe bear on June 2nd, 2007 9:37 pm

      I won’t go on a cruise,to many tsunamis,then you are upside down with some rapist.

    6. Richard on June 2nd, 2007 10:12 pm

      On cruises, as in Aruba, the statistics about crime are in the hands of the powers that be. All suicides, no crime …

      The George Smith case is still open. Remember that on the awning of the canopy below his cabin, a huge bloodstain bearing the imprint of a man’s body was found? And the ship’s crew were out at 4 a.m. or so trying to wash it off?

      (What? Destroying evidence? Come now ….)

      Had a passenger not happened to walk by with a camera, the cruise ship company would have passed the case off as suicide.

      The reality of cruise ships is quite different from the advertising image. Then again, we’ve seen that in Aruba.

    7. Scared Monkeys on June 3rd, 2007 1:17 am

      Folks, as always you do as you wish … its your choice.

      However, taking a cruise is no different than vacationing in Aruba.

      There is a reason why a ship flies the flag of one country, is docked out of another and is incorporated in a third. It is to automatically create a jurisdictional nightmare if something goes wrong. A vacation where everything goes properly is never an issue.  Don’t you think the family of George Smith felt that way? This family had gone on numerous cruises and never gave anything a second thought.  Think they still think the same?

      The problem is when something goes wrong. On a cruise, like in Aruba … you are at their mercy. And as seen how both multi-million dollar tourism entities operate … you will receive no mercy.



    8. Richard on June 3rd, 2007 5:27 pm

      And when you’re in international waters … there is nobody to appeal to for help.

    9. Fools Gold on July 26th, 2007 4:31 pm

      How many men had a bride who got drunk, flirted with another man, kneed her brand new husband, went off with the stranger, etc. The fact that this happened on a hotel that floated is hardly relevant.

      The travel writer is over-reacting when the statistics of all the hotel guests who did not disappear are considered.

      Are there problems with secrecy imposed by the cruise lines? Sure. If you don’t like that, don’t go to a foreign country, but don’t over inflate the likelihood of anything happening.

    10. Tpainton on March 5th, 2008 12:33 pm

      I assure you.. far more people are robbed, raped, kidnapped, killed and cheated in RESORTS than on Cruise Ships. Problem is, when someone disappears from a land based resort, it isn’t as mysterious as falling off a cruise ship. People don’t create webpages for this common event.

      You are hundreds of times more likely to get a serious infection at a rural vacation spot in Mexico, Africa, South America or Tahiti than you are on a cruise ship..The sanitation aboard most Cruise ships is MUCH tighter than any third world country and yet…

      It’s just not as glamourous to slam Mexico as it is Royal Carribean.

      How many people disappeared or were murdered in Las Vegas last year?

      Far more than on all cruise ships combined.. IN 2003 there were over 511 rapes in Las Vegas.. That’s more than all cruise ships combined over the last 20 years.

      Now, don’t you all feel stupid?

    11. Paul Motter on April 21st, 2008 12:16 pm

      It should be noted that Joel Widzer was fired from his job writing for this company not long after this column appeared, not because of this column, but allegedly because of bizarre, unexplainable behavior which included himself disappearing and prompting a police search for his whereabouts when he, in fact, was fine and knew what was happening.

      The guy is missing a few marbles. It should also be noted that the article said he had never been on a cruise ship, so he knew nothing of the subject he was spouting off about. No credibility at all.

    12. Jack West on May 17th, 2008 8:51 pm

      I personally know Joel Widzer and state for the record that he was not fired from his writing job. In addition, the event Mr. Motter references was a web entry gone wild.
      Mr. Motter has a vested interested in the cruise industry and seemingly will go to any length to bash a good person.
      I also recall the mentioned article and subsequent dialogue; Mr. Widzer wrote about the industry not what the experience is like on a cruise ship. Therefore not having taken a cruise is not relevant.
      Next time Mr. Motter, have some basic decency.

    13. richard on July 5th, 2008 8:25 am

      Whatever you think about the cruise industry, please reflect for a moment on the case of missing George Smith Jr.

      Today (July 5, 2008) is, I believe, the third anniversary of his disappearance from the ship.

      The family continue to seek justice and answers.
      Let us all stand with them.

    14. Cruise Ship Accident Attorney on July 2nd, 2009 1:29 am

      If cruises are so great then why do they have a history of covering up rapes by cruise ship employees and sexual assaults to begin with?

      Is bandit a cruise ship defense attorney. That is the dumbest comment ever. GeeI dont think I got norovirus on a cruise. I just Dugg this one.

      Posted by: Michael P. Ehline. Attorney at Law

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