Unless you follow the cruise industry carefully, the following story might appear incredible.
A local television station in Florida, WKMG Local 6, has carefully put together the details of an incident aboard the Disney Dream last August. An eleven-year old girl complained of being molested by a crew-member. Video footage was found of a waiter in a lift forcibly kissing the girl and fondling her breasts. The ship set sail from Port Canaveral and the incident was only reported to the police when the ship returned – but the company had unloaded the waiter at another port and flown him back to India before any charges could be made.
This looks to be a fairly clear case of the company trying to hush-up a story and not caring very much about justice or the victims. The company cannot be blamed for the actual incident – such things can happen anywhere – but its behaviour afterwards, if this story is correct, is disgraceful.
Can you imagine an airline even attempting to do something like this? Cruise companies hide behind loose international maritime law far too much. There has been a great deal of criticism about the way cruise companies handle crime at sea, but this looks to be one of the worst cases. The Captain and Disney executives who made the decision to spirit the waiter away ought to be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.
The message to any families taking a Disney cruise is surely that, if faced with a choice between justice and protecting its reputation, the reputation will come first. Now that the story is out in the open, the company deserves all the bad publicity it will get.