Royal Caribbean: 24 Allegations of Rape and Sexual Assault in 2010?

Today a newspaper in New Zealand published an article about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships.  The article is entitled  "Sex-Assault Risk Greater On Liners Than On Land: Study."

The article refers to ". . .  one well-known cruise line, Royal Caribbean International, receiving more than 450 sexual abuse complaints during an eight year period."

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Rape - Sexual Assault - Crime The article is based on research conduct by cruise line expert Dr. Ross Klein, who has testified before our U.S. Congress on issues of crimes against cruise passengers.  Dr. Klein's popular website tracks crimes, cases of noro-virus and other incidents and accidents involving the U.S. cruise industry.

The newspaper quotes the following crime statistics based on Dr. Klein's information: 

Royal Caribbean International - 18 ships and 451 complaints of sexual assault and harassment between 1998 and 2005.

Celebrity Cruises - 9 ships and an average of 16 complaints each year between 1998 and 2002.

Carnival Cruise Line - 92 sex-related complaints in one nine-month period in 2008.

According to the newspaper, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean stated that: " . . . the company carried more than 4.5 million guests and crew members in 2010 and reported 13 allegations of rape and 11 of sexual assault - not all of which were upheld."

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are quick to try and minimize the number of sexual assaults by two methods.

First, they like to point out that there are virtually no convictions, which is true.  A major problem is that there are very few convictions when women on raped at sea because of issues of spoliation of evidence, confusing jurisdictional issues, and the tendency of the cruise line to protect its own employees and reputation rather than preserve evidence and encourage prosecutions.  

The second method is to compare the number of crimes to the total number of passengers or passengers/crewmembers which have sailed over the course of a year.   The implication by Royal Caribbean is that it should be compared to a city of 4.5 million and it has "only" 24 rapes or sexual assaults.  

The correct way that the FBI and crime statisticians calculate crime rates is by comparing the number of crimes to the total population, not the total number of tourists or people in transit.  In the case of cruise lines, this means the total population on a cruise line's fleet of ships at any one particular time.  According to this cruise line's information sent to its investors, Royal Caribbean has a total passenger population of around 62,000.  (I am not certain of the total number of crewmembers). 

If this number (24) is accurate, that means that there is a rape or sexual assault allegation about every other week on Royal Caribbean ships alone. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Sexual Assault - RapeThere is also a question whether the statistics released by Royal Caribbean are to be trusted.

In 2005 and 2006, we attended Congressional hearings with our clients where Royal Caribbean was instructed by Congress to disclose the total number of sexual assaults in its fleet over a period of approximately three years.  It disclosed 66 rapes and sexual assaults.  However, in a subsequent civil case we handled, the cruise line refused to disclose its crime statistics.  We filed motions to compel and for sanctions.  A trial court then ordered the cruise line to disclose the number of such sexual incidents or face a fine of $1,000. 

In response, the cruise listed far in excess of 66 incidents; the total number was around 273, including allegations of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during a shorter time period.  The Los Angeles Times covered the story in an article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters."

If Royal Caribbean is claiming it had 24 incidents last year, I suspect the true number is higher.

 

For additional information about sexual assaults on cruise ships, read another article from the LA Times: Cruise Ship Crime `Low Priority'   

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Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jonas Ribeiro - January 16, 2012 8:29 AM

It's real, I'm one victim!

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