Sunlit Brit

A British mom in Mickey's kingdom

Disney cruises and their flags of convenience – how protected are you if you are a victim of crime on their ships?

disney cruiseAccording to the adverts, Disney Cruises lets you experience the Disney Magic at your own pace. Boasting of it’s spectacular entertainment and dedicated areas for adults and kids, a Disney cruise must be top of the list if you’re on of the 17.2 million passengers who sail from North America on cruise ships each year.

Disney’s floating cities carries 218,000 passengers and 5,000 daily crew per quarter so its not surprising that crime exists. However, it is surprising that under the ‘flags of convenience’ Disney have registered their vessels in the Bahamas and the minute each passenger steps on the ship they are automatically outside the jurisdiction of the United States and at the mercy of cruise lines, making it difficult to find out exactly what happens onboard when a crime occurs.

rebecca coriam

Rebecca Coriam

In March 2011, Rebecca Coriam went missing from the Disney Wonder ship off the coast of Mexico. She was a youth worker on the ship and was last seen on CCTV making a phone call from the staff quarters. Four hours later she failed to show up for the start of her shift and was reported missing. Her parents believe that Disney acted negligently in failing to alert the coast guard for a further four hours, waiting more than five hours to contact the Mexican Navy and nearly seven hours to call the Bahamian police. Legal papers issued by the Coriams also allege that Disney gave “false and misleading” information about the ships position when it alerted the coastguard.

A single officer from the Royal Bahamian Police Force flew out the ship three days after Rebecca’s disappearance and spent one day talking to selected crew members. The Disney Wonder accommodates 2,700 passengers and 950 crew yet the officer established in that one day that Rebecca had been washed overboard from the crew pool area, which has raised doubts as the area has high protective walls.

Then there’s the question of the CCTV, Disney caters for young families, in fact on the Disney Cruise website it states that the Disney Wonder was specially constructed with families in mind so why wasn’t there any CCTV cameras in the area where it is alleged Rebecca was thrown overboard?

CCTV footage was available on a Disney Cruise in  August 2013,  where an 11 year old was molested by a crew member in the lift area of the Disney Dream whilst it was still in port. The crime was immediately reported to staff by the family of the victim but the ship authorities did not report the crime until the next day when the ship was on its way to the Bahamas. The crew member was allowed to disembark in the Bahamas where Disney flew him home to India without an investigation or prosecution taking place,avoiding any kind of negative publicity for the company.

Three years on, The Coriams have yet to received the results of the Bahamian investigation and have filed papers in court accusing Disney of failing in its duty of care. Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamian Police Force has merely offered the following ” At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play.”  No formal report has been disclosed to the family and it stands to reason that the Bahamian Police will always be reluctant to disclose any errors made by a company that pays the Bahamas huge amounts of money to register their vessels there.

Following the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, Disney began, in August 2013, to voluntarily disclose alleged crime on their website. However, there are doubts that theses figures are accurate as allegations where formal investigations do not take place are not published and due to the criminal process in the registered country, the crime may not be reported until months or years after the accident date, giving misleading information to potential passengers.

It seems that the flag of convenience has provided Disney with a convenient way to avoid negative publicity and that if you are ever unlucky enough to experience anything less than the magic of Disney on their cruise ships, it’s going to be a struggle to get any sort of information or prosecution.

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