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Learn More About Cruise Sexual Assault Claims


Many individuals heading out of cruise ships are ready for a lifetime experience and never even consider the dangers that may be present during their cruise. Women may leave their guard down when it comes to other passengers and especially crew members; however, today there are large crowds on cruise ships similar to a small town or even mid size town. This means you will be on board a cruise ship with thousands of individuals that you do not know. Cruise ship sexual assault does happen so parents need to talk to their children and ensure they know the rules that are set at home, such as not leaving an area with a stranger is still in force on cruise ships. They should also warn their children not to leave an area with a crew member alone.

There are more cases of cruise ship rapes than are reported to the media. The main reason these problems may not be hitting the newsstands is due to the Risk Management Manual of most cruise ship companies. The document states,

“As all accidents or illnesses may result in litigation, the Risk Management Department should be promptly notified in the event of an accident or incident, to jointly review and analyze the information received from the ship's initial investigation, to determine the steps necessary to further investigate and defend any claims arising out of the accident/ incident including immediate contact and retention of defense counsel.”

Once the information is in the hands of the Risk Management Department, the information is often buried, so damaging news will not harm the cruise line. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped while on a cruise ship, you should contact an accident attorney specializing in maritime law immediately about the details of your case.

Law Regarding Sexual Assault on a Cruise Ship

There are criminal jurisdiction over sexual assaults, as well as rapes while on cruise ships ; however, in the majority of cases, nothing or very little occurs with criminal law enforcement when it comes to a cruise ship rape. This often only leaves those that have been sexually molested on a cruise ship the option for civil actions handled by maritime attorneys for monetary damages.

It was reported by one maritime law firm that investigated sexual assaults on cruise ships determined that from 174 complaints of sexual assault or rape on a ship during a time period of four years, that no one had been prosecuted or convicted of the assault.

What to do if you are raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually molested on a cruise ship

  • If you were molested on a cruise ship, you should contact security immediately.
  • If you were a victim of sexual assault on a cruise ship you should not eat, drink, shower, or even change your clothing before being examined by the ships doctor. Ask the physician to give you a blood test. All evidence needs to be reported and properly logged. Ask the physician for a copy of his findings.
  • Ask that the crime scene be taped off or sealed off from other passengers and crew members until law enforcement can exam the area.
  • Take pictures of the crime scene as soon as possible after the attack to have evidence that may be cleared away before law enforcement arrives.
  • Any items that are touched in the crime scene should be handled with gloves.
  • Booties should also be worn to protect evidence that may be on the floor.
  • If there, were any witnesses of the sexual assault or rape, write down their names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Ask if they would mind providing you with their statements.
  • Have a friend or family member take pictures of any bruises, cuts, or tears you may have.
  • The cruise liner will not be your best friend during this time, especially if your assailant was a crew member. You should have a friend or family member contact the FBI by satellite telephone. The FBI can give you instructions on what you need to do.
  • Contact an experienced and qualified cruise ship attorney to ensure that your sexual assault is not hidden away. The cruise ship attorney will be able to help you pursue justice.
Who Can Sue

If you or one of your minor children were a victim of sexual assault on a cruise ship, raped on a cruise ship, or were molested on a cruise, you may be able to sue the cruise ship company as well as seek criminal charges against your attacker. The laws regarding cruise ships have more to do with the actual location of the ship at the time of the assault than you might imagine. In some cases, if the assault occurred in territorial waters of the US, the crimes would be governed by state and federal laws; whereas, if the rape occurred in international waters, different laws would apply. Talk to a personal injury attorney about the details of your case to see which laws may apply.

To know what direction in which to proceed it is best to talk with a cruise ship attorney that has worked on rape cases aboard cruise ships in the past.

Potential Recovery

The potential recovery that is possible for victims of rape, sexual assault, or molestation on cruise ships vary from one victim to another. However, in one case in November of 2002, a Federal Court in Miami gave a verdict of $1,000,000 to a woman that was sexually assaulted by a male crew member of Celebrity Cruise Lines during her cruise aboard the Zenith cruise ship. In this case, the Cruise Line, Celebrity did not collect forensic evidence, provide a rape kit analysis, did not administer anti-viral or antibiotics for the prevention of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Evidence presented at the trial showed that Celebrity worked to cover up the crimes to protect their image to the general public.

Interesting Facts
  • A major cruise line company reported they have around 2 reports of sexual assaults or rapes per 100,000 passengers.
  • Another major cruise line received 99 sexual assaults or rape reports in a time period of five years.
  • A different major cruise line reported 2 sexual assaults or rapes every month on their cruise ships.
  • Another cruise line company has its own rape and sexual assault management team instead of utilizing the standard security department for these claims.
**The names of the cruise line companies have been left out of the reports due to security reasons.


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