Turn on the news any weekend, and you’ll hear a recitation of the daily crime round. There will be fights, stabbings, muggings and more. It’s a ritual we’re used to hearing – the unfortunate background noise of life in a modern urban environment.

So perhaps the remarkable thing about the two events that occurred this month on board local cruise ships is their rarity. We suspect it’s why they attract so much attention.

In the past decade, we’ve enjoyed enormous growth in the number of families setting sail on homeported ships.

In 2016, 1,281,159 Australians took to the seas for a holiday. And with remarkable regularity, they return with nothing but praise for what they have experienced: Great food, amazing activities, fantastic service and new friends.

Look on any cruise ship web site or Facebook page, and you’ll see what we mean.

Carnival Cruise Lines, the operators of the Carnival Legend – involved in the most recent incident – is a case in point. Of our more than 1 million cruisers, 30 per cent are families – that’s 384,000 family members who enjoyed a well-earned break on board a cruise ship.

For Carnival Cruise Lines, this is a particularly significant statistic. It is known for its “family fun ships” and its conscious effort to attract mums, dads and their children. The loyalty of their passengers is…well…legendary.

The Carnival Spirit and the Carnival Legend have been year-round Aussie icons for some five years. And the tens of thousands of families who have enjoyed the Green Thunder waterslide and the fabulous singing waiters in their dining rooms their is testament to their popularity.

The line’s vice-president Jennifer Vandekreeke, who has spearheaded the line’s growth in Australia, described the incident as “unprecedented”, and promised a full inquiry.

Earlier this month, P&O’s recently refurbished Pacific Explorer – a terrific ship which Cruise Passenger’s professional reviewers have sailed on many times – also found itself in the spotlight after police were called to deal with a group of seven passengers who were involved in a fight.

P&O is Australia’s biggest carrier. The company has spent huge sums modernising its fleet, and probably offers the best value anywhere for those after a short cruise vacation. It has opened up new ports across Australia and beyond, and redefined contemporary cruising for a new generation of younger cruisers. Almost two thirds of its passengers are under 59.

Both lines moved swiftly to remove the alleged troublemakers. And, in the case of the Carnival Legend and Pacific Explorer, the vast majority of passengers applauded these efforts.

Today’s cruise ships are modern miracles, carrying the equivalent of a small town. Small wonder, then, that occasionally there are a few bad apples.

So while we feel for those whose holidays were affected buy these incidents, Australia’s cruise lines can be proud of their recent record in providing enormous numbers with great holiday value.

Our advice: keep calm and carry on cruising!

Peter Lynch


Cruise Passenger magazine