According to the United States Coast Guard, approximately 200 overnight ocean-going cruise ships are currently circumnavigating the world, with an average of 2,000 passengers with a crew of 950. By next year, the number of passengers is expected to exceed 23,000,000–up from 12,000,000 in 2007.
However, the Coast Guard also believes that “passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to crime . . . and need to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.” The truth is that crime on cruise ships is a lot more common than one would think. That is one of the reasons why Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act of 2010 (H.R. 3660), which requires among other things that the Coast Guard publish cruise ship crime statistics on its website–but only for ships that embark or disembark from US Ports.
Cruises leaving from European, Asian, and other ports have no obligation to report criminal activity to the FBI or Coast Guard. Furthermore, the reporting seems sporadic; so far in 2016 only one report has been published, and it shows, not surprisingly, that much of the “reported criminal activity” occurs aboard Carnival Cruise Ships.
The report indicates that there were a total of ten criminal incidents involving Carnival passenger-victims from January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016, including one mysterious death, three assaults with serious physical body injuries, and seven sexual assaults. Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise line in the world, reported one murder, two suspicious deaths, a crew member suffering a serious assault, three thefts involving property over $10,000, and 17 sexual assaults (16 passengers and 1 crew member). Norwegian reported one suspicious death and five passenger sexual assaults.
Cruise lines can certainly do a lot more to protect their passengers, starting with providing them valuable information that can protect them and potentially save their lives. For example, Cruise ships are required by 46 USC 3507(c)(1) to make printed security guides available to passengers. These security guides are meant to provide an important description of medical and security personnel designated to prevent and respond to emergency situations on board, as well as law enforcement processes available regarding criminal activity.
Our maritime accident and injury lawyers investigate hundreds of passenger injury claims every year, and frequently our clients inform us that they had not been provided with any information by the cruise line as to when, where, and how to report their incident. Often the medical facilities on cruise ships are difficult to find, located in the bowels of the ship, and open only sporadically.
If you are considering taking a cruise, we recommend that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the ship–even before boarding–by looking over the ship’s floor plan and map, and requesting a copy of the security guide. Once onboard, remember that cruise ships are floating cities, with all of the potential criminal activity that one could encounter in a major metropolitan destination such as New York, Kuala Lumpur, or Paris. I am sure parents would never leave their children to wander the streets of Paris alone, yet it is not uncommon for vacation-starved parents to be lulled into a false sense of security by the fresh sea air, tropical cocktails, and spa treatments, thinking their children can make it alone from the cabin to the kids’ club. Unfortunately, this is not true.
VICTIM ON CRIME ON CRUISE SHIPS
If you have been the victim of a crime or injury aboard a cruise ship, you have very specific legal rights that need to be protected. Our law office fights hard to represent passengers who have been injured or victimized in crimes aboard cruise ships. Call us today for a free and confidential initial consultation 24/7 at 1-866-597-4529 or 305-441-0440 or send us an email at [email protected]. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, loss of cruise, transportation reimbursement, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of the capacity to enjoy life. We are ready to help.