In light of last week's arrest of a Disney Cruise Line employee, who stands accused of having sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy that was in his care, some may wonder if cruise ships have a sexual assault problem. Cruise companies have known for years that their crew members, and fellow passengers, frequently commit sexual assaults aboard the ships. This fact was highlighted in a recent court case in which an appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean with the judge citing the fact that cruise companies are well aware of the industry's sexual assault problem.
The judge scolded Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCL) for its inaction as a group of men intoxicated a 15-year-old girl in one of the ship's bars, in front of Royal Caribbean crew members. The men then led the girl to a cabin room where they raped her. When the victim later sued RCL for negligence, the company claimed that it could not have known what would happen as the men intoxicated the teen. The court noted that cruise lines are required to keep statistics about cruise ship crimes, and that Royal Caribbean should have been well aware of the dangers.
The statistics to which the court referred are startling. Every quarter the Department of Transportation releases these stats and they always give the same result: cruise ship sexual assault is the number one reported cruise ship crime.
It's time that cruise companies start to take the threat of cruise ship crime seriously. Crew members raping and sexually assaulting women and children who are under their care is a worst case scenario. But the recent report of the arrest of the Disney Cruise Line employee is proof positive that the threat is all too real. Cruise lines must stop making excuses and protect their passengers.