While a majority of the perpetrators are fellow passengers, crew members, who hold a position of power, have also been accused of such violations. The absence of immediate law enforcement involvement and a convoluted jurisdiction, which could involve multiple countries, further complicate matters for the victims. Moreover, the U.S. public only received a comprehensive picture of this issue since 2016, when reporting standards changed, indicating a longstanding problem.
Cruise lines have a major role to play in enhancing security measures and reporting incidents transparently. Unfortunately, the industry’s track record in this aspect raises concerns. Carnival and Royal Caribbean, two major cruise lines, recorded the highest number of sexual assaults since 2010.
Although sexual assaults are the most prevalent reported crime on cruise ships, many believe that the actual figures are far higher. Worse yet, despite being repeatedly told by their own security staff that more could be done to protect passengers, senior executives have reportedly chosen not to implement changes, citing costs. This neglect towards passenger safety is deeply concerning and suggests a need for a stronger focus on implementing safety measures.