Cruise Ship Assault and Rape Attorney

Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Attorneys

Compassionate legal help for victims of sexual assault on cruise ships

Cruise ship vacations often give passengers a false sense of security. There’s no police presence on board, but crewmembers in security uniforms give the impression of safety. While there are typically hundreds of passengers in any given area, certain areas of the vessel have less traffic. Dark corners and empty corridors combined with the over-serving of alcohol make for vulnerable circumstances for cruise ship passengers.

Sexual assault and rape are, unfortunately, a common occurrence on cruise lines. Victims have legal options to press charges, but it’s essential to understand your rights and statutes of limitations. At Hickey Law Firm, our attorneys specialize in cruise ship sexual assault and rape claims. Our firm founder is double board-certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Admiralty and Maritime law. We understand this is a traumatic and devastating time for victims, and we can help you navigate the legal process to make sure the perpetrator and cruise line are held accountable.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why does sexual assault happen on cruise ships?

Cruise vacations get more popular every year because of the “ease” of an all-inclusive experience and the ability to see several countries during the voyage. The excitement men, women, and their families have when the cruise begins are palpable. Passengers view the enclosed environment as safe and secure, which is far from reality. There’s a severe lack of security on most cruises. There’s no police force, but crewmembers wearing “security” uniforms give that impression. Many employees are typically from third-world countries, paid far less than minimum wage, and have no real incentive to provide safety and care to passengers.

Excessive alcohol service is another reason why rape and sexual assault occur on cruise ships. From the moment you step on board, you’re bombarded with drink and bar options on this “floating city.” Combine this over-service with the false sense of security passengers feel and it’s a recipe for disaster.

While laws are changing and more victims come forward, there’s still a high rate of unreported rape and sex crimes, and foreign perpetrators may assume that he or she will not face consequences due to legal options for crimes on international waters.

Cruise ships sometimes house thousands of passengers, but even these highly-populated ships have dark corners, spas, passenger rooms, private rooms, empty corridors and empty areas where sexual assault and battery can occur. The isolation and weeks or months at sea also make it “easy” for evidence (or even bodies) to go missing.


What are my rights as a passenger on a cruise ship?

In the past, cruise lines were not required to report crimes such as rape and sexual assault  because of the wide range of locations and ports around the world, and in some instances, companies such as Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean didn’t even have to let authorities onboard the ship to do an investigation. However, that all changed in 2010 with the Cruise Ship Vessel Security Act of 2010 (CVSSA), which was enacted to address safety concerns and crimes on cruise ships. This language includes sexual assault prevention and the appropriate actions to take to help victims.

The CVSAA publishes Cruise Line Incident Reports four times a year. This is the most recent data of ONLY the last quarter, Oct - Dec 2023, regarding sexual assault and rape claims on 10 different cruise lines:

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) Statistical Compilation: Sexual Assault

Carnival Cruise Lines33
Celebrity Cruise Lines33
Crystal Cruise Line11
Disney Cruise Line3111
MSC Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Princess Cruises
Royal Caribbean11
VC Ship One Limited22

[Reference: Cruise Line Incident Report - 1 Oct - 31 Dec 2023 // Last Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2024]


Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) Statistical Compilation: Rape

Carnival Cruise Lines6141
Celebrity Cruise Lines11
Crystal Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line11
MSC Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Lines514
Princess Cruises11
Royal Caribbean55
VC Ship One Limited

[Reference: Cruise Line Incident Report - 1 Oct - 31 Dec 2023 // Last Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2024]

The law requires cruise ship operators provide logs for room key access, video surveillance (including preserving the video footage), and a rape kit, complete with medications to stop sexually transmitted diseases. The CVSSA holds cruise lines responsible for reporting all incidence of rape, sexual assault, and battery each quarter, making these statistics available to the public.

Under the Cruise Ship Vessel Security Act of 2010, cruise passengers have the right to:

  • A copy of the security guide, which provides a summary or where and who to report a crime to and criminal law procedures for crimes committed on any waters the ship may travel through and a list of U.S. embassy locations.
  • A sexual assault forensic exam.
  • Confidentiality should you need to request and receive support services aboard a ship. Any information given to the ship’s medical staff, counselors, and support staff must be confidential.

Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has jurisdiction over sex crimes committed at sea as long as:

  • The vessel is wholly or partially owned by a U.S. company, or
  • The victim or perpetrator is a U.S. citizen, or
  • If the voyage involves a United States port, or
  • The crime took place outside any nation’s jurisdiction (international waters) and involved a U.S. national, or
  • The crime was committed within 12 miles of the U.S. coast.

Aside from FBI involvement, the cruise ship sexual assault attorneys at Hickey Law Firm can help you pursue civil action and hold the cruise line financially responsible.


What should I do after a sexual assault on a cruise ship?

If you have been a victim of cruise ship sexual assault or rape anywhere in the world, it is important to remember that what happened to you was not your fault. It was the fault of two parties only: the person who committed the crime and the cruise line whose negligence allowed that crime to happen.

Below are important steps you should take if you have been sexually assaulted or raped on a cruise ship:

  • Report the crime immediately to the security officer onboard the ship.
  • Go to the ship’s infirmary to report the incident and to obtain treatment for any physical injuries. Although it may seem against your natural instincts, it is best NOT to shower or wash your clothes/bedding until you have had a forensic examination by qualified medical personnel. Doing so could destroy valuable evidence.
  • Collect the names of the crewmembers who were involved (that is, the perpetrators).
  • Gather names and contact information from passengers with any information. This would include anyone who heard or saw any of the events leading up to, during, or after the incident.
  • Call the FBI to report the crime. The cruise lines are obligated to allow you to speak to the FBI and you have the right to speak to them. Do not allow the cruise line to report to the FBI on your behalf. Cruise companies want to tell the FBI their version of events, which can be a conflict of interest, especially when a cruise ship crew member is involved. Instead of allowing the cruise company to contact the FBI for you, insist that you (or your loved ones) talk directly to the FBI.
  • Upon arriving at your port in the U.S., go immediately to the nearest rape treatment center. Every hospital in the U.S. has one. The ERs of U.S. hospitals have rules and protocols for treating and testing for rape.
  • Get proper medical care as soon as possible for your physical injuries. This may include a gynecologist, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon, an internist, or family doctor.
  • Take photos of any physical injuries or bruises. These can be incredibly powerful evidence in your case.
  • Seek psychological counseling for your assault and associated trauma.

Call the cruise ship injury attorneys at Hickey Law Firm. We can help. We have experience in representing victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery on cruise ships.



How can an attorney help with my cruise ship sexual assault claim?

Regardless of where your cruise took place or where you bought the ticket, most of these cases have to be filed in Federal Court in Miami, Florida. It’s crucial to your case that you begin the claims process immediately and gather all evidence and witness testimonies.

The maritime injury attorneys at Hickey Law Firm understand firsthand the shameful tactics cruise line attorneys use, which may involve saying the sexual assault never happened, that it was consensual if it did, or the crime was committed by another passenger, limiting the company’s liability. We know how to undercut these appalling strategies, and work to establish liability for:

  • Negligent hiring of cruise ship personnel
  • Negligent training practices
  • Failure to monitor heavy traffic areas of the ship and corridors
  • Failure to employ an adequate security plan
  • Failure to run background checks for sex offenders
  • Negligent supervision of youth activities
  • Providing or selling alcohol to minors
  • Failure to establish crime deterrents on cruise ships
  • Failure to provide sufficient security and number of security guards
  • Sexual assault by crewmembers
  • Rape by crewmembers
  • Assault, battery, or robbery by crewmembers

When we take your case, we open an investigation into your case to determine exactly why your assault occurred and who should be held responsible.

Cruise ship of my injury lawyer

How much time do I have to bring a claim against a cruise line?

The statutes of limitations for cruise ship injuries, cruise ship sexual assault and rape, and other crimes or incidents that occur at sea can be as short as 180 days (six months) to file a civil lawsuit against the cruise line. Additionally, there are requirements for where and how to file a claim against cruise lines for rape and sexual assault.

However, federal statute 46 USC Sec. 30508 expands that time limit for child sexual assault victims. It is also extended for adults who have been found legally “incompetent.” (Wrongful death claims may also be included.) In these specific cases, you may have up to three years.

But you should not wait to file. Hickey Law Firm can help.


What compensation am I entitled to after a cruise ship sexual assault?

Cruise ship sexual assault claims are different than your average personal injury case. These crimes leave the victim with physiological and psychological trauma that can’t be represented with a dollar amount.

However, the attorneys at Hickey Law Firm understand your life or the life of your loved one has been forever changed because of this terrible incident. In cruise ship claims involving sex crimes, we pursue damages from emotional and physical harm, and in some cases, punitive damages, to prevent future injury to passengers. We seek compensation for all:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Actual physical harm
  • Pain and suffering, including PTSD, depression and other common psychological damages
  • Other associated costs


Strong, dedicated cruise ship sexual assault attorneys

The cruise ship sexual assault attorneys at Hickey Law Firm rерrеѕеnt thоѕе whоѕе lіvеѕ wеrе affected bу thе nеglіgеnсе of сruіѕе lіnеѕ. Remember, cruіѕе lines hаvе tеаmѕ of lawyers whо immediately іnvеѕtіgаtе ѕhірbоаrd раѕѕеngеr сlаіmѕ wіth thе оbjесtіvе of bеnеfіtіng their еmрlоуеr. Talk to еxреrіеnсеd and ассоmрlіѕhеd attorneys with a record of success. We want to protect уоur rіghts аnd hоld thе сruіѕе lіnе financially accountable fоr what happened to you.

To schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney today, call 305-371-8000 or fill out our contact form. Initial consultations are free, and every case is taken on a contingency basis.

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