Sexual Assaults and Rapes on Cruise Ships
Sexual Misconduct on Cruise Ships by Crew Members and Passengers
The cruise ship industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. Annually more than 12 million passengers
embarked on cruises worldwide. In South Florida alone, there are more than 8 million visitors to Florida’s seaports including the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades and the Port of Miami.
While cruise ships can offer families fun, beautiful destinations and more, families often forget that these cruise ships are huge floating cities and have a false sense of security. Some ships have a capacity of nearly 5,000 people and crew depending on the size of the ship and cruise line. Confusing layouts, long deserted hallways and corridors and lack of security can lead to opportunities for sexual predators, drunk passengers, and others to commit sexual assaults and rapes. According to the FBI, sexual assaults are the dominant threat to women and minors on the high seas.
Cruise lines are responsible for the safety of every person onboard at all times. If they do not have adequate security to prevent rapes and sexual assaults from happening on their cruise ships, they can be held responsible in a civil court of law.
While cruise ship employees are supposed to go through a screening process
to protect passengers, mistakes do happen and cruise lines may hire someone who could eventually take advantage of their position and rape an unsuspecting passenger. Unfortunately there are no computer databases or depositories of information for criminals or sexual predators in many countries. Another problem is that cruise lines do not share their crime data. Passengers may also pose a threat of sexual assaults, especially one who has been drinking all day and tries to force a sexual encounter with an unwilling passenger.Parental Warnings – Prevent Sexual Assaults
- Keep an eye on your children. Unsuspecting teenagers are particularly susceptible to inappropriate contact from predatory crew and passengers. Check on the kids often and ask plenty of questions regarding with whom they are interacting? While kids' clubs and daycare services are a great option for parents, make sure you meet all the crew that will interact with your children and ask questions about training and background checks.
- Don’t drink too much. Cruise lines make most of their money on alcohol sales and excursions. It is important to drink responsibly. The cruise line has a responsibility to maintain its ships' safety for its passengers including protecting passengers from those that have had a little too much to drink. Often older teenagers or young men will try and entice 15 and 16 year old girls to go back to their cabins and drink.
- Be aware of off-ship excursion dangers. Excursions can be a safe and fun way to spend time at ports of call; however, some countries and ports have high crime rates for robbery, rape and murder. Research the port or region you are going to before you go. The cruise lines are responsible to provide safe passage and activities for passengers.
- Protect yourself from a lack of security. It is also important to note that most cruise ships have few security guards with little to no law enforcement backgrounds. Cruise ship security often has little experience or the skills to handle or investigate crimes such as rapes and sexual assaults. In many cases, the victims and their family are left to fend for themselves. It is important to protect yourself before you embark.
Each year thousands of passengers are injured on cruise ships. Many believe cruise ship rapes, assaults and cruise ship injuries and deaths were covered up and underreported, and until recently, cruise lines were not required to report incidents in a timely, meaningful way. Many sexual assaults and rapes went unprosecuted. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which requires cruise lines to report all deaths, missing persons, theft, rape, sexual harassment and assaults.
Most cruise ship sexual abuse and sexual assault claims come with a statute of limitations. Normally the terms of your cruise line’s ticket will determine where any legal proceedings will be held and the length of time in which you have to file a claim (often a year). Complexity is added depending on whether the crime took place in national or international waters, etc. That is why it is important to contact an experienced sexual abuse and assault attorney to protect your rights.
If you or your child has been molested, raped or assaulted by a cruise ship employee or passenger while on Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, CUNARD, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MCS Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Viking Cruises, or on a private yacht, contact our cruise ship sexual assault / victim’s rights attorneys
to discuss your legal rights.