by Emma Featherstone from The Telegraph, October 3, 2018
Picture the scene. You’ve saved up for the perfect holiday - complete with luxury accommodation, meals and tours - and counted down the days, only to find your trip rudely interrupted by a raucous stag party.
This was the situation facing passengers on board a recent Royal Caribbean Australia cruise, except in place of the stag do was a group of more than 1,300 revelling employees from Indian tobacco company, Kamla Pasand.
More than a third of the Voyager of the Seas’ passenger capacity (3,144) was taken up by the group, which joined the ship in Sydney.
The workers had come from a conference and brought women dressed as Playboy bunnies and burlesque dancers on board, according to Australian news website, 9news. Fellow passengers are said to have taken refuge in the ship’s restaurants as the rowdy contingent took over the decks and buffet.
“It was almost like a huge bucks [stag] party – a bucks night for 1,200 people,” western Sydney passenger Cassandra Riini told Australian news programme A Current Affair.
“Their doors would be open and you would walk past and be like what am I going to be looking at when I walk past this door?” she added. “It is hard to forget after seeing all the flashbacks of these men around all the time, 24 hours a day, like we could not escape.”
Bingo, normally a popular source of entertainment on the cruise, was cancelled due to a lack of interest, with guests said to be keen on the cabaret.
It was reported that Royal Caribbean issued full refunds to affected guests.
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Telegraph Travel: “During Voyager of the Seas’ three-night sailing from Singapore on September 6, a group onboard caused complaints from some of our guests who raised their concerns with us after they returned to Australia. We were able to quickly provide them with a satisfactory solution.
“Royal Caribbean operates with the safety of our guests and crew as our highest priority. While we have had a long history of successful group bookings in which all guests have enjoyed their cruise, we are looking into this incident, including all guest feedback to ensure our group booking policies are suitable and that our guest conduct policy is applied appropriately.”
While this event may be alarming to some cruisers, out-of-hand behaviour or incidents of crime are rare on cruise ships. Plus, the Australian cruise market typically attracts a younger demographic.
Meanwhile, statistics show cruises to be one of the safest forms of travel, with serious crime rarely occurring. As Telegraph Travel has previously reported, there were only six murders committed on a cruise ship between 1990 and 2017, and all but one was of a domestic nature (and that occured on a casino ship on an overnight trip from port, so not technically a cruise ship).
But legalities at sea can be complex. The location of a ship when a crime takes place, its previous and next port of call, the nationality of the victim and perpetrator and the country where the ship is registered can all determine whose legal system is applied.
All ships sail with their own security teams to keep order on board as well as to protect passengers from any possible outside threat. And on modern cruise ships all public spaces are closely monitored by CCTV.
A spokesperson for the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) said: “CLIA cruise line members’ priority is to provide for the safety of passengers and crew at all times. There are stringent protocols and processes in place to protect passengers and crew, which will vary from line to line, and on different ships.”