When most travelers board a cruise ship, they have a lot on their minds. ‘What activities should I do first?’ ‘Where can I get some food?’ ‘Point me to the nearest bar.’ It’s highly doubtful that any cruise passenger’s prevailing thoughts are centered on what crimes they could possibly suffer from or how unsafe they might be on their ship. But sadly, this is something all cruise passengers should be thinking about because safety isn’t always guaranteed. Unfortunately, there is a very real threat of danger with any cruise vacation –one of the largest being the threat of sexual assault.
Our cruise ship rape lawyers here at LMAW have reported on several acts of sexual assault on cruise lines that have transpired over the past few years, many of which have involved crew members and even young children. And sadly, many of the victims of these incidents did not have the chance to obtain justice – and may never be able to. Why? Because of an unfortunate, yet all too common practice among cruise lines – withholding evidence.
There is a huge discrepancy in cruise crime reporting. Despite the fact that maritime laws, like the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, have been enacted with the hopes of protecting cruise passengers from harm, sexual assault cases continue to plague the cruise industry and remain the number one crime on cruise ships. Yet, cruise lines continue to withhold evidence of these crimes from the public and many times, may not even file a report with the FBI or other land-based authorities. There are even times when the cruise line denies that a sexual crime has occurred or waits far too long to begin investigating a victim’s claims, allowing the perpetrator plenty of time to get away at the next port of call and avoid liability for their crimes.
The January sentencing of a Holland America crew member who was found guilty of raping and attempting to murder a female passenger aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam on Valentine’s Day, 2014 highlights the dire need for security protocols on ships to be much stricter. No cruise ship passenger should ever have to worry that they might become a sexual predator’s target. Cruise ship vacations should be fun and SAFE! Even though this particular assailant was caught and convicted, nothing can ever truly assuage the pain and trauma any sexual assault victim is forced to endure, which is why cruise lines should focus on preventing these terrible crimes from happening to begin with, instead of worrying about damage control after the fact.