Cruise Ship Law

Crime on Cruise Ships – How Cruise Lines Can Better Protect Those On Board (Part 1)


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Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Justice ScaleCrime is something that affects everyone, no matter where you live or where you travel to. Naturally, crime is something cruise ship operators have to deal with as well. Not only is crime something that can affect cruise guests and even cruise ship crew members while in a foreign port, but it’s also prevalent on the ships themselves.

Though there isn’t much cruise operators can do to change the laws of each country in order to make destinations safer for guests – aside from stopping port calls completely – there are several tactics cruise lines can employ to reduce the likelihood that someone on board a ship will become the victim of a criminal act, such as theft or assault.

Our cruise lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. will explore the many ways cruise lines can reduce the likelihood a crime will occur on board.


Improve Crew Member Training

Though there are times when incidents can occur without any foreseeable way to prevent them, many crimes on cruise ships occur because of the lack of adequately trained crew members. One way to reduce crime on board a ship is for cruise operators to invest in better training for their staff. For one, there is a significant lack of emergency training for crew members, as well as a lack in specialized officers, such as security guards. Far too many passengers become the victims of serious crimes and often, crew members are unable to help because they lack the proper training. Hiring trained security officers and providing specialized security training for all crew members can have numerous benefits. Crew members can better spot crimes in the making, for example, and can possibly stop life-threatening incidents from occurring or can stop minor crimes from escalating. Also, if crew members are properly trained on how to document incidents, crime scenes and evidence can be better preserved, which means those who have been wronged have a much greater chance of obtaining justice.

Additionally, given the fact that many perpetrators are crew members themselves, cruise lines can invest in more rigorous background checks to reduce the likelihood a convicted offender is hired. Just because a background check surveys the crew member’s record in their home country, this doesn’t mean they didn’t commit an offense in another country. More extensive background checks and even the issuance of psychological exams can prevent those who are not of sound mind from being employed on ships.

Furthermore, cruise operators can also station a greater number of crew members to stand watch in both public areas and in locations where only crew can access to reduce crimes. Many incidents take place in the late hours of the night or in hidden corridors, when no one is monitoring the ship. If a greater number of ship personnel are standing watch at all times, there is much less of a chance that a criminal will strike.

Better Equipped Ships

Many cruise ships are not sufficiently equipped with surveillance cameras or infrared technology that can detect when a passenger goes overboard. Though ships these days can hold well over 3,000 passengers, they lack sufficient technology to monitor them. Every ship should not only be equipped with state of the art technology that can record when and where a crime takes place, but also, cruise lines should ensure surveillance footage is reviewed at all times so that the instant suspicious activity is captured, crew members can act quickly and apprehend all suspects.

We’ll continue exploring the ways cruise lines can reduce crimes in Part 2 of our blog series.

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