Data analysis on cruise ship sexual assault reveals big-line crime


Canada Today

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), sexual assault is consistently the most commonly reported crime aboard large cruise ships, accounting for about three-fourths of all reported crimes from 2010 through 2022.

Business Insider reports that of approximately 500 documented incidents, 70% have happened on either Royal Caribbean or Carnival ships. However, Carnival nearly doubled Royal Caribbean’s number – despite having fewer ships.

Insider reports that more than 80% of attacks were perpetrated by passengers, not crew members. However, a California woman, represented by maritime attorney Michael Winkleman, alleged in January 2022 that she was raped by a Princess Cruises crew member and infected with HIV. DOT records show that Princess attributed more reports to its employees than other cruise lines.

Speaking to Business Insider, Winkleman cautions that the DOT’s statistics may not reflect the true incidence of assaults, as many cases go unreported and victims may fear their experience will be minimized. Minors are also particularly vulnerable – it is estimated that they account for a third of sexual assault victims each year.

Winkleman tells Insiders that the difference between the cruise lines appears to be related to marketing tactics. For example, Royal Caribbean takes a “family-focused” approach in its advertising campaigns. This is in stark contrast to Carnival’s focus on fun and partying, which the attorney said could put people in situations where impaired judgment plays a role in the danger.

Nonprofit organization RAINN told Insiders that it creates training and safety procedures specifically to prevent sexual assault. The organization works with cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean Cruises, which in 2015 became the first company to receive compliance certification from a RAINN program designed to train employees on how to prevent and deal with sexual violence.