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Cruise Line Sexual Assault Lawsuits Highlight Need for Better Security


If you take a look at the sorts of lawsuits that cruise lines face, you’ll find a number of medical negligence lawsuits, some injuries to passengers, and a whole lot of sexual assaults. While sexual assault aboard cruise ships is often sensationalized by the weight and tragedy of the incident, it’s important to understand why sexual assault is the most common crime alleged aboard cruise ships.

Cruise Lines Provide Onboard Security 

When a victim is assaulted aboard a cruise ship, they have no recourse other than to report the crime to the ship’s security. Since the security provided by the cruise line are employees of the cruise line, security often finds itself in the position of protecting the cruise line’s interests at the expense of the sexual assault victims.

In these situations, sexual assault victims don’t have anyone to advocate for them, protect their own interests, or ensure that the individual who is accused of sexual assault is, at the very least, neutralized. How often does that happen, though? What sorts of protections are victims given?

Unacceptable Number of Sexual Assaults 

In 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, there 62 reported sexual assaults of 92 overall reported crimes. Additionally, a number of the sexual assault victims were minors. In terms of liability, the cruise line would be liable in instances when it was their own employee who committed the sexual assault, but when it’s another passenger, or a group of passengers as in a recent case, in which a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped by a number of older men, the plaintiff would have to prove some negligence occurred.

The most recent case involves a 16-year-old girl who says she was fed shots of liquor purchased for her by the older men and then taken back to a cabin where she was raped. In addition, she claims that this happened in full view of the bartender and there were several security cameras that had the incident on film.

Would Official Officers of the Law Help? 

There is a line of reasoning here that states that having an official from a government agency on board the vessel could help curb instances of sexual assault. While perpetrators of sexual assault on international waters can be criminally prosecuted in the United States, they have to be U.S. citizens under U.S. jurisdiction. It becomes much fuzzier in other countries that aren’t interested in prosecuting crimes that occur outside their jurisdiction.

At least having a law officer there to file an official report that doesn’t necessarily have the interests of the cruise line’s liability at heart could create an environment that is safer for passengers.

Talk to a Miami Maritime Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured aboard a cruise ship, you may be able to sue to recover damages. Talk to Miami admiralty & maritime attorney Michael F. Guilford today to schedule a free consultation.




  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

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Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998