Readers Weigh In on Surveillance Camera Debate

May 19, 2008
Last week, Cruise Critic took a closer look at onboard security systems in light of one woman's tragic fall from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Dawn, which was caught on camera and reviewed by authorities during a full investigation of the incident. We sought your opinion on the use of surveillance cameras onboard -- and an overwhelming majority of you are OK with being taped, as long as in-cabin privacy is upheld.

Our poll on the Cruise Critic message boards asked: "What's your opinion about the use of surveillance cameras onboard cruise ships?" Sixty-five percent of 439 participants stated at press time that "it's fine, as long as I have complete privacy in my cabin"; 21 percent say more matter-of-factly that "it is absolutely necessary in this day and age."

A good 4 percent of you have "come to terms with the fact that Big Brother is everywhere!" Only 8 percent said "it creeps me out a little, but I understand the need," and less than 1 percent -- just four people -- "don't like the idea one bit."

Your comments dig deeper into the issue:

"At first I felt a bit uncomfortable with them, but midway through the cruise I thought it was nice having them around, especially in the long, sometimes deserted stateroom hallways," posts Azure Moon. "My vote on the poll was that I'm fine with the use of cameras as long as there is complete privacy in the cabins. But, I would also include that I'd expect complete privacy in certain parts of spas and in all restrooms."

"I just came off a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit," posts slotaddict. "We were on the 9th floor in a forward cabin; we could clearly see the side of the bridge from our balcony, there was a security camera hanging from the bridge, so I suspect they could see many balconies."

"I don't mind (and would welcome) cameras in pretty much any public space on the ships," beachchick writes. "Not in the cabins; not in the public restrooms ... not in the spa areas where passengers are likely to be naked, such as massage rooms or saunas; not on the cabin balconies (that is still part of my private space; they're advertised as private and need to be treated that way)."

"Of course there are hidden cameras throughout the ship, and I see it as a very necessary thing, this day and age when there's crime all over the place, regardless of where you are," posts RoxyD0823.

"I think that when you are boarding or during the muster drills they should advise people that they have cams around the ship for our safety," posts nyflush. "When my son was only two and we were interviewing for a nanny we installed nanny Cams, it was still pretty new then. I let everyone know that we had installed them all over the house not in their bedroom or bathrooms of course. Think of it this way I did not want something to happen and then say 'you're busted' or 'gotcha'! I wanted to prevent something intentional or foolish from happening."

"It amazes me that the slightest mishap on a ship is suddenly the fault of the cruise line," writes G'ma. "Lawsuits get filed if a person drinks too much and falls down the stairs or if something is stolen or an accident occurs. They have to protect themselves against frivolous lawsuits by passengers behaving badly. Cameras certainly help ... The latest incident is proof of that."

"Pictures don't lie," posts e150club. "Ever watch 'Cops'?"

"I'm glad to see that no one has yet to have a negative reaction to the cameras," writes PMBARBARA. "I feel that you are on their ship [and] they can put cameras just about anywhere they want. The only right to privacy should be in your cabin or in the restrooms. On that note, I hope that [they] will delete the footage from the elevator from my last cruise. Hey ... it was late ... we were alone ... just some smooching, but it will make me think twice next time."

For inquiring minds still wondering exactly how a surveillance camera could have captured 46-year-old Mindy Jordan's fall from her balcony, one cruise industry insider who wishes to remain anonymous shares this information via e-mail: "All ships have surveillance cameras pointed at the funnels, to monitor emissions, along with one hanging from each bridge wing that is panned aft that surveys the vessel's flank. They caught the footage of her falling overboard from one of the bridge wing-mounted cameras."

--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor

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