Articles Tagged with “Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act”

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Since 2010 and the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, the cruise industry has a duty to report 8 crimes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They include: Homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. National, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, firing or tampering with the vessel, theft of money or property in excess of $10,000, and sexual crimes. Once the crimes are reported, the Coast Guard publishes the statistics on its website after the investigations are closed.

carnival-triumph-disabled.jpgOn December 20, 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published its review of the first 3 years of compliance by the cruise ship industry of the new regulations imposed by the CVSSA. Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation gave a sombering overview: “I’ll give the cruise ships some credit, because of the first bill we passed they raised the level of their railings . . . They’ve done a pretty good job on that, but when it comes to crime, no they have not.”

In its report, with respect to CVSSA crime-reporting requirements, the GAO noted that the FBI and the USCG have implemented these provisions as required. The crimes that occur on cruise ships and that fall within one of the 8 crimes listed above have been published when they are no longer under investigation. However, the GAO noted instrinseque limitations on how the statistics would provide any measure of usefuleness to prospective cruise passengers. Specifically, the GAO raised three specific areas of concern:

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A 27-year-old woman, traveling with her family, was allegedly raped by a crew member during an 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board the Celebrity Equinox.

Celebrity-Equinox.jpgThe details of what happened are still under investigation, but some facts were reported by the London Evening Standard.

According to the victim who reported the crime to her parents and to the captain, she and the crew member shared some drinks with the young woman. Tired, she walked back to her cabin and after she made it clear that she was going to sleep. At that moment, the nameless crew member, who had followed her, pushed the woman inside her cabin, threw her on the bed, and performed multiple sex act against the woman’s will.

After she was seen by the ship’s doctor, the captain of the ship reviewed video surveillance footage of the ship and observed the victim sharing drinks with the crew member, as well as the alleged assailant following the passenger to her cabin. He ordered his crew to hold the alleged rapist until the ship arrived in the next port. Upon docking in Messina, Sicily, the man was handed over to the police, with a copy of the video footage.

Upon breaking the news, a Celebrity Cruises released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving a British guest on one of our ships and she has opted to continue her cruise. We are liaising with the relevant authorities.”
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The odds of becoming the next cruise passenger victim of a sex crime are unknown.

You and your family decide to go on a cruise to celebrate a special occasion at sea. The luxurious and glamorous temptation of spending a week on a majestic cruise ship is understandable, and for all you know, a quite safe way to spend some quality and relaxing time with your spouse and teenage children.

Two months after coming back from the cruise, your 15-year-old daughter courageously confesses that while alone in her cabin on the cruise ship, a crew-member unlocked her cabin door using a universal key card, and forced her to perform several sex acts. She kept quiet and did not tell anyone until today, because she did not want to ruin the family vacation.

That horrendous event is unfortunately not as uncommon as one may think, and certainly not as uncommon as the cruise industry would like you, potential customer, to believe. Yet, that is exactly what happened in 2010 to a 15-year-old girl and her family while on board a Royal Caribbean cruise in New Zealand, as reported by CNN below:

After years of hearings, committees, and disputes over the lack of statistical data on crimes occurring on cruise ships, Congress finally gave birth to a new law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act. This law aimed notably at forcing the cruise industry to to abide by new requirements of transparency, including the requirement to report to the FBI all crimes that occur on their ships. The passage of the new law was deemed a bipartisan success, and the essential step in the right direction to finally have a crime database that could be used in the future to improve the security and safety of cruise passengers.
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In February 2011, a female cruise passenger, Jane Doe (“JD”), boarded a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for an 7-day cruise in the Eastern Carribean. She was traveling with a wedding party of 25 from Canada to celebrate her best friend’s wedding which was planned to take place on the beach in St. Thomas. JD was to be the Maid of Honor and was sharing a cabin with the bride’s mother.

That day, after enjoying a day of relaxation and sunbathing, JD decided she had enough sun and went up to her cabin. Once back in the cabin, she went to bed and fell asleep. Moments later, she was attacked by a crew member / room steward. JD’s attacker performed forcible oral sex on her and raped her as well. JD repeatedly told the crew member to stop, but he continued raping her. That is when the bride and her mother entered the cabin and walked in on their friend being raped.

It was established that the crew member had entered JD’s cabin by using his staff key while JD was asleep, Cruise Ship Attorney Alexander Perkins was able to reach a seven figure settlement for our client.

Cruise Lines Ignore Sex Crimes by Cruise Employees on Passengers

The repetitive problem of sex crimes by cruise employees aboard cruise ships finally surfaced in 2005 after several high profile incidents on the high seas. It culminated in congressional hearings, where the cruise industry leaders testified they would address the safety concerns and implement preventive measures, including uniform reporting of crimes and cooperating with federal authorities such as the FBI and Coast Guard. The specific problem of cabin stewards having unlimited access to passenger rooms was a major area of concern. The cruise line industry promised to take corrective action. Sadly for JD, the situation has yet to be addressed.

In September 2007, a Royal Caribbean cabin attendant used his key card to enter a female passenger’s cabin at night while she slept in her bed and raped her. In another publicized RCCL rape case, the Court required RCCL to provide the number of incidents of sexual assault and harassment on its cruise ships for a period of two and a half years. It indicated that over 250 women were sexually harassed, assaulted or battered. A large number of the incidents occurred in the passenger cabins. Between 2003-2005 there were 149 reported sexual assaults and in 2007 there were 69 sexual assaults reported aboard RCCL cruise ships, the majority by crew members against passengers. These statistics also do not include incidents between crew members, and of course the fact that many victims of sexual assault do not report it. The rate of sexual assault aboard cruise ships was found to be twice the rate found in the US.
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