Disturbing NBC Report on Sexual Assault Aboard Cruise Ships

We’ve reported before about a rising trend in crime on cruise ships. Specifically, in 2016 the number of alleged sexual assaults on cruise ships departing from the United States soared 384% from the year before.

This disturbing data comes from the Cruise Line Incident Reports filed quarterly, in compliance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA).

As we explained, the rise in the number of sexual assaults was likely due to a change in the way crimes on cruise ships are reported and was a more accurate figure than what had been reported in years past.

Now, NBC News has a new report out that’s even more disturbing. According to the story, many of those sexually assaulted on cruise ships are underage.

From the story:

“Over the course of three months, NBC News spoke with 10 victims of sexual assaults or members of their families. We found that these floating cities can pose a hidden danger.

“Of the 92 alleged on-board crimes reported by cruise lines in 2016, 62 were sexual assaults. When sexual assaults occur at sea, it may be hard for victims to get justice on land. Some assaults were barely investigated, according to the victims and families who spoke to NBC. Most were never prosecuted.

“And perhaps most troubling, many of the sexual assaults on-board cruise ships involved minors. A congressional report in 2013 found that minors were victims in a third of the assaults.”

The story goes on to account several instances of sexual assaults against minors on cruise ships, including one underage girl allegedly sexually assaulted by a trainer in the ship’s gym.

What’s worse is that often these crimes can’t be prosecuted due to the inherent difficulties of investigating a crime occurring in foreign waters. As reported by NBC News:

“Questions of jurisdiction when an alleged crime occurs aboard a cruise ship can be complicated. The ship may be registered in a non-U.S. country, the incident may occur in international waters, and the alleged perpetrator may be a foreign national.”

The FBI will investigate crimes against U.S. citizens, but cases are difficult to prosecute. Often, no charges are filed.

You can view the entire segment here:

Let us be clear. Considering that tens of millions of cruise passengers board each year, your personal chances of being a victim are relatively low. However, that’s no reason to let your guard down whether on the ship or in port in another country.

We continue to believe that cruises offer one of the safest vacations around, but just like vacationing anywhere, you should be aware of your surroundings, and don’t take risks you wouldn’t take back home. It’s also important to remind your kids that they should be vigilant as well. And just because you are on a cruise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your guard down as a parent.