Can Assigned Seating at Dinner Lead to Cruise Ship Rape?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

cruise ship rapeMany cruise lines offer passengers the option of paying extra to dine at specialty restaurants. These restaurants feature a variety of cuisines, for an additional cost of course. Yet, they also offer passengers the ability to enjoy private tables for their parties, however small or large – an option that’s not only a commodity, but one that may actually increase passenger safety and lower the chance of sexual assault and cruise ship rape.

It’s no secret that sexual harassment and rape are a huge threat to cruise passengers. Over the years, our cruise ship rape lawyers have seen numerous cases in which passengers have been attacked by sexual predators. What’s worse, victims can be of any age and gender and assailants can be fellow travelers or even crew members.

There are several ways in which passengers can reduce the risk of sexual assault and cruise ship rape, like avoiding secluded areas on a vessel and traveling in groups. For the most part, these tactics are common sense, with many passengers avoiding the more obvious hazards. But what if we told you that even a cruise ship’s dining room could be a breeding ground for sexual assault? What if we told you that the person sitting next to you during dinner could be a sexual predator? The idea is not as far-fetched as you might imagine.

Those who don’t wish to pay for specialty dining usually opt to enjoy a meal at the ship’s main (and free) dining room. These days, more cruise lines are offering passengers the option to choose their own dining time instead of being restricted to the traditional early or late seating. However, regardless of whether traditional or flexible dining is chosen, many passengers are often grouped together and assigned seating arrangements with other random travelers – especially those in smaller parties.

Grouping parties together in the dining room is a very common practice. Cruise lines do this, in part, to make sure tables are booked to full capacity and speed things along. Some passengers don’t mind, but others find themselves in awkward situations if they are grouped with strangers. And aside from the odd silence that may arise, there may be an increased risk for cruise ship rape.

Sexual predators are not usually creepy loners that lurk in the dark. Predators can actually be quite charming. And the idea of sitting at a table with a bunch of strangers (aka potential targets) can be a dream come true for sexual assailants. These criminals can easily strike up a conversation (especially with women) and quickly convince unsuspecting passengers that they are ‘safe’ to mingle with. Before you know it, the unsuspecting passenger may invite the predator back to their cabin, where an attack may occur.

As you can see, forced seating arrangements may contribute to an environment where passengers are trapped in difficult and damaging situations. So, what choice do passengers have?

Well, for one, you can always choose to dine at a specialty restaurant, but no one should have to ‘pay’ for increased safety on a cruise ship. Another option is to specifically request a private table with the dining room host. You may have to wait longer to be seated, but at least you’ll have peace of mind. If you do happen to be seated with other passengers and feel as though something is off, you can always request to be transferred to another table. But the best rule to strictly adhere to is that you should not put yourself in a position where you could end up alone in a non-public area with someone you just met on your vacation.