There has been a lot of news lately about cruise ship disasters, like ship fires, groundings and sinkings. But the most likely danger that a passenger, woman or child, faces during a cruise is rape.
Cruise ships are essentially floating cities. Increasingly larger floating cities at that. Like any city, a cruise ship has crime. Over the past decade the most likely crime on a cruise ship we have seen is rape.
Cruise lines deny that rapes occur frequently. Just two days ago the cruise lines issued a PR release stating that cruising is "absolutely safe." This is part of the problem. The cruise lines are so motivated to portray an image of an "absolutely safe" vacation experience that they will go to great lengths to protect that marketing image, including cleaning crime scenes and covering the crimes up.
A decade ago, we obtained a confidential internal study (pursuant to a court order) in which one cruise line concluded that sexual crimes occurred "routinely" in its fleet of cruise ships. It then embarked on a campaign of representing to the public that such crimes were "rare."
During a series of Congressional hearings several years ago, the same cruise line told Congress that it had 66 rapes over a period of 3 years, for an average of 22 rapes a year. But during a court case, a trial court in Miami ordered the cruise to to produce its internal documents which revealed the truth - the cruise line actually 273 incidents of sexual assault, harassment and "inappropriate sexual touching."
All of the major cruise lines track sexual crimes and know that there are hundreds of incidents of sexual assault and battery each year during cruises.
Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.
Our firm has handled many sexual assault cases and molestation cases involving against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.
In the cases we have handled, the shipboard rapes were committed by a wide variety of cruise employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor. The sexual assaults occurred in various locations on the cruise ship, with the most common locations being the passenger cabin, storage room, and crew bathroom. The most likely assailant? A male cabin steward from a country outside of the U.S. where it is impossible to conduct a meaningful background check.
Don't expect the cruise lines to be your friend. They will take the side of their employees every time. And for a number of reasons, law enforcement, especially the FBI, has a terrible record of prosecuting crimes which occur on the high seas.
Jim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago. Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983. Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.
Jim and Lisa have represented several sexual assault cruise victims who testified before our U.S. Congress. These women were assaulted by a bartender, a part-time security guard and even a diving instructor during a cruise sponsored excursion.
Examples of settlements for cruise ship rape and molestation we obtained include: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $1,000,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000 and $250,000. (All cases are different, depending on the facts. These settlements may not be reflective of the reasonable compensation in your case).
Here are what people are saying about Jim:
"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.
"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.
"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.
"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).
If you or your child were assaulted during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis. Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.
If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our toll free number for a free and confidential consultation: 1 800 256-1518.
Photo credits: Carnival cruise ship at Government Cut, Miami - Jim Walker