Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships

On board cruise ships, there exists a latent risk of sexual assault that can occur in any setting at any moment. Many travelers, engrossed in the allure of their vacation activities, might inadvertently overlook the necessity of maintaining a heightened sense of awareness towards potential criminal acts—even within the confines of a cruise vessel.

Contrary to the perception of many, cruises are not exempt from instances of crime. Disturbingly, sexual assaults on these ships occur more frequently than is commonly understood. Thus, it becomes imperative for passengers to consistently be alert to their environment and, when accompanied by minors, to exercise extra caution in safeguarding them.

Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen stands as a beacon for those unfortunate victims who have encountered such traumatic experiences while navigating the oceans. Our team of dedicated maritime attorneys understands the profound sensitivity required in managing these cases, ensuring that every piece of information is treated with the highest level of confidentiality and care. While cruises often promise a unique and memorable experience for families and individuals alike, it remains vital for every traveler to be cognizant of the inherent risks associated.


The Underreporting of Sexual Assaults at Sea

The FBI, over time, has observed a significant number of reported sexual assaults and rapes on ocean voyages. Disturbingly, among all maritime crimes reported to them, sexual assaults stand out prominently. Precise statistics regarding these crimes remain elusive, mainly because many victims opt not to report, and several cruise companies either fail to disclose or downplay these incidents.

Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Facts

In 2018, the Department of Transportation (DOT) noted that cruise lines reported 120 alleged crimes, including 82 alleged sexual assaults. In 2022, 87 alleged sexual assaults were reported on cruise ships — the second-highest number of sexual assaults on cruise ships incidents recorded since the US Department of Transportation began publishing crime data in 2010.

The Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

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.

Legal Proceedings

Cruise company investigations usually result in dismissals rather than criminal prosecution, and the legal complexities involved with jurisdiction further complicate matters. Most ships sail under the flags of foreign countries like the Bahamas, Panama, or Liberia, making local and international jurisdiction a messy affair.

Legal proceedings involving sexual abuse, particularly those that fall under maritime law, can often be intricate and overwhelming. We understand the immense courage it takes for survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice. Legal representation can make a significant difference in their path to recovery and justice.

Individuals who suffer harm on cruise ships may pursue legal action against the cruise line to obtain compensation for emotional distress, medical costs, and other expenses tied to the incident.

In many cases, victims find the most effective course of action to be seeking financial restitution through civil proceedings, rather than pursuing criminal charges. Should you or a loved one experience a sexual assault or rape while on a cruise, and need clarity regarding your legal rights, it’s essential to reach out to a maritime attorney at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen promptly.