Crimes against women in ports of call is a topic which I write about on a regular basis on Cruise Law News. Cruise lines have a legal duty to warn about the danger of crimes in the ports of call that they sail to on a regular basis. Cruise lines sell an idyllic image of a care-free tropical vacation, but in reality they know or should know that there are dangers ashore waiting for their passengers.
One country I write about all too often is Mexico. Drug related crime is increasingly creeping into the port cities. Gang violence will increasingly pose a threat to cruise passengers traveling to Mexico unless things turn around quickly in the future.
But a real threat to female passengers sailing to Mexican ports is violence, including sexual assault, against teenagers and young women.
A case pending in our court system should serve as a wake up call to cruise lines sailing to Mexican ports. After Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas sailed into Cozumel, a young woman went ashore into the port to shop. The lawsuit alleges that the cruise line provided her with a map of the shopping locations recommended by Royal Caribbean. A gang of men brutally raped the young woman while she visited one of the recommended stores. The lawsuit further alleges that it is believed that the men who raped the cruise passenger worked in the subject shopping area.
Like most crimes against cruise passengers in ports of call, there have been no arrests. Ostensibly the alleged rapists may still be working in and / or around the shopping area in question.
Does Royal Caribbean warn cruise passengers of this danger? No. Cozumel is one of the few ports capable of accommodating the Genesis class cruise ships like the Allure and the Oasis. No way will Royal Caribbean risk scaring its customers away from Cozumel when it has to sell 11,000 tickets for these two monster ships.
In fact, the cruise line touts Cozumel as one of the safer ports in the world.
Five months after the gang rape of the Royal Caribbean cruise passenger from the Oasis, a Royal Caribbean crewmember from the Allure of the Seas was found murdered and floating in the water off of Cozumel. The cruise line did not alert her or any other crewmembers or passengers of the earlier crime. Indeed, after the murder Royal Caribbean issued a press release characterizing the crime as "isolated and uncharacteristic for Cozumel."
It seems that Royal Caribbean forgot about the gang rape a few months earlier?
The murder, like the rape, remains unsolved.
I have never heard of anyone in Mexico being tried or convicted of a crime against a tourist or a ship employee going ashore. There are several web sites discussing the reluctance of Mexican police to get involved in investigations in cases like this, such as Mexican Vacation Awareness which chronicles crimes and violence against tourists in Mexico. Some of the local police in Mexico have even been accused of participating in crimes against tourists.
Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean conceal these dangers from their cruise guests. It appears that even the stores on the cruise line's recommended shopping list may not be safe to visit.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Angel Castellanos