8. “There is still plenty of peril on the sea.”

It seems like some­thing out of a movie: Four masked men armed with shot guns and pis­tols stick up a tour group of more than 60 cruise pas­sen­gers and crew viewing a trop­ical water­fall, then make off into the bushes with money, watches, camera and jew­elry. But that’s what hap­pened last month in St. Lucia to pas­sen­gers of Celebrity Eclipse, a ship owned by Royal Caribbean, according to reports in the media and the web­site of local police. In the end, no one was hurt. At least three sus­pects have been taken into cus­tody. (Royal Caribbean didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

Danger can lurk onboard cruise ships too, according to critics, espe­cially because of heavy drinking and the cut-​​loose atmos­phere of some ships. Rates for sexual assault on cruise ships seem to be about 50% higher than on land, according to Ross Klein, a pro­fessor at Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity in New­found­land, who studies the cruise industry.

The cruise industry says such reports are overblown. A spokesman for the Cruise Lines Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion directed ques­tions about onboard crime to James Alan Fox, a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity crim­i­nol­o­gist whose research it has pre­vi­ously spon­sored. Fox says that while he wasn’t familiar enough with Klein’s work to eval­uate his spe­cific find­ings, Fox told us that his own research sug­gests ships have lower crime rates than other pop­ular tourist des­ti­na­tions like Las Vegas or Orlando. One reason is crowds, cam­eras and secu­rity staff. Another is cruising’s bour­geois demo­graphics. “There are no high-​​crime areas on cruise ships,” he says.

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