Cruise Ship Rape and Sexual Assault: What You Should Keep in Mind

Cruising is one of the most popular types of vacations. Given the wide variety of options to explore the land and the sea, it only makes sense that cruises would attract an enthusiastic following. Many who prepare for a cruise imagine that it will be all blue skies and smooth sailing. However, it is important to remember that accident and injury often occur aboard cruise ships.

The top crimes reported aboard cruises are rape and sexual assault. As a result, we have compiled a few issues to keep in mind before you depart.

Law Enforcement at Sea is Almost Nonexistent

When you are on land, you can always rely upon the knowledge that the authorities are only a phone call away. However, at sea, law enforcement is much different. Although cruises are required to have their own on board security, this is not nearly as effective as it could be in deterring perpetrators from committing violent crimes.

“We have seen instances where there are five on duty security personnel securing around 3,000 passengers during an evening where there are about a dozen open bars around the ship.  That’s simply inadequate security no matter how you look at it!” says Jason Margulies, one of our board certified maritime attorneys.

It is up to you to place your safety as a top priority, since you cannot rely upon anyone else to do so. If you should become the victim of a rape or sexual assault, the authorities aboard your cruise may not be as helpful as you would like. “Remember – the shipboard security staff is employed by the cruise line and their top priority is protecting the interests of the cruise line and their inadequate security,” says Margulies.  This is why it could be necessary to speak with a cruise ship rape lawyer to understand your rights and how best to move forward.

Passengers and Crewmembers Are at Risk

The truth of the matter is that both passengers and crewmembers are at risk for rape and sexual assault. We have helped countless individuals handle their rape and sexual assault cases in the past, and know first hand that everyone is equally at risk of becoming a victim.

As a result, you owe it to yourself to remain alert during your time at sea. Whether you are there for work or play, you should always use good judgment when deciding where and with whom you will spend your time.

Intoxication May Increase Chances of Attack

For many, the unlimited access to alcoholic beverages means spending their days at sea more intoxicated than usual. Although drinking can be an enjoyable way to pass time, it can also lead to serious consequences if the individual consumes more alcohol than normal.

Intoxication increases the chance of someone behaving in a dangerous or threatening manner. Some individuals may also attempt to slip drugs into the alcoholic beverage of an unsuspecting victim. So you should monitor your drink and your consumption at all times, while also being aware of your environment.  Also, just because your drink was delivered to you by a crewmember doesn’t mean it was not drugged on its way from the bar to you.  It’s always a good idea to watch your drink being prepared before it is served to you!

Perpetrators Can Be Prosecuted

If you have fallen victim to rape or sexual assault at sea, you can rest assured that these crimes can be prosecuted in a court of law. Rape and sexual assault are considered crimes whether they are on land or on the water. So no matter the jurisdiction, you can and should press charges. The cruise lines are now required under law to report the rape or sexual assault to the authorities – which will at least involve an outside law enforcement agency in the investigation.  However, “it has been our experience that such investigations by the FBI, for example, are delayed and limited – so you should always involve an experienced maritime lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and help you to preserve evidence,” cautions Margulies.

LMAW PA is Here to Help

Fortunately, you do not have to handle your legal burden on your own. Speaking with a maritime attorney on our team can help set your mind at ease, so that you can put this tragic event in the past, once and for all. We are ready to begin advocating for you. So when you are ready to take the next step, do not hesitate to contact us.