Reason would have it that the most prevalent crime aboard cruise ships would be something minor, such as theft. There are thousands of state rooms aboard today’s massive ships, and with crew members moving in and out, one would think that there may be some level of theft occurring on any given day.
But despite this seemingly intuitive line of reasoning, theft is not even close to the most commonly reported cruise ship crime. Instead, cruise passengers report having been victims of sexual assault more often than any other crime.
Today’s issue of the Miami New Times recounts the story of a young performer called Jane, who was sexually assaulted aboard the Celebrity Summit in 2017. Jane was sexually assaulted by a crew member, a man who had been fired from another cruise company after he had allegedly sexually assaulted a woman aboard one of that company’s ships. Sadly, Jane’s story is just one of dozens of stories of cruise ship sexual assault that are reported every year.
The report says that at least 220 sexual assault incidents have been reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation since 2016. And unlike those crimes which occur on land, cruise victims often do not have access to the same support and law enforcement resources as those who are victimized shore side.
More cruise ship crimes are reported now than ever, due to a 2010 law that changed the companies’ crime reporting practices. Before, cruise companies only had to report crimes when their internal investigations into the crimes were closed, allowing them to keep the crimes from being reported indefinitely.