23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months

A court case pending in Miami contains an insight into the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises.

The case is Jane Doe v. NCL and involves an incident where a cruise passenger alleges that she was raped in the toilet stall of a public bathroom while participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun.  A "Pub Crawl" is what I would describe as a drinking game where NCL employees take passengers to bars throughout the cruise ship where they are served booze. I mentioned the case last year.  

The federal district court judge just entered a number of orders in the case which are of interest.

Norwegian Sun Cruise Ship - Sexual AssaultNCL filed a motion arguing that it owed no obligation to warn its guests of the risk of being raped on the high seas. The court rejected the cruise line's argument.

The court pointed to the fact that there were 23 allegations of sexual assault on NCL cruise ships for the 15 month period before the incident (January 2010 to April 2011). The history of prior sexual crimes on NCL's fleet of cruise ships raised the issue whether the rape on the Norwegian Sun was foreseeable which, the court held, is an issue for the jury at trial.

NCL also argued that it had no duty not to over-serve passengers alcohol during cruises.  The federal court also rejected this argument. The court adopted the holding of a state court case, Hall v. Royal Caribbean, where a state appellate court ruled that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol beyond the point of intoxication.

The security report on this case concluded that the passenger was "extremely intoxicated." 

Last week, I mentioned that NCL just adopted a "all you can drink" alcohol policy for $49 a day.  In our experiences there is a direct correlation between too much cruise booze and sexual assaults. 

The passenger in the NCL case is being represented by Miami maritime lawyer Keith Brais who posted copies of the court orders on line here and here.

NCL is being defended by Miami lawyer Curtis Mase.  Mr. Mase was involved in a highly publicized case in 1999 where a trial court ordered Carnival to reveal the number of sexual assaults against cruise ship passengers. This was the first time a cruise line had to reveal the extent of shipboard crimes.

Carnival disclosed that there were 62 incidents on its cruise ships for a five year period.  Two weeks later, the New York Times reported that Carnival located another 46 incidents and raised the tally to 108 incidents of sexual misconduct over the preceding 5 years. 

Passenger Goes Overboard From NCL's Norwegian Sun in Falmouth Jamaica

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that a NCL passenger went overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun shortly after the cruise ship pulled out of the Falmouth shipping pier in Jamaica late Wednesday. 

Professor Klein has the most complete list of passenger overboards over the course of the last ten years.

Professor Klein's website refers to an article in the Jamaica Observer which reports that the Trelawny police responded to an incident late on Wednesday involving a passenger who died after going overboard from the top deck of the cruise ship Norwegian Sun.

The newspaper quotes the head of the Falmouth Police Division, Superintendent Andrew Lewis, stating that he was informed that the cruise passenger was taken from the water by crew members of the vessel, which had turned around after an alarm was raised that the passenger had jumped.

Famouth Jamaica Passenger OverboardThe police reported that the incident occurred 25 minutes after the vessel left the Falmouth cruise shipping pier about 6:00 pm.

The article is confusing, claiming that the passenger allegedly "jumped" while  Superintendent Lewis referred to "the man falling in the water."

Yesterday, the Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett issued a bizarre statement, expressing regret over the incident but said he stating that "the circumstances has nothing to do the destination."

NCL, which is based here in Miami, has not issued a statement about the incident.  The only reports I have seen about the passenger overboard are from Professor Klein who is in Canada, and the newspaper in Jamaica.  

The Miami-based cruise lines do a remarkable job keeping these type of incidents under the radar.

Like many overboards, it is less than clear whether the passenger jumped or fell, and if so whether alcohol was involved.

If you were on the cruise or have information, photographs or video regarding the incident, please leave a comment below. 

November 4, 2011 Update:Norwegian Sun Passenger Overboard

Tonight NCL issued the following statement:

"At approximately 7 pm ET on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, a guest traveling on Norwegian Sun was observed jumping overboard from a public area on Deck 12.  The ship immediately turned around, launched rescue boats and conducted a search.  At approximately 8 pm ET, the guest was located in the water, returned to the vessel and pronounced deceased by the ship’s doctor.

All appropriate authorities have been notified.  Out of respect for the family, the company will not be releasing any further details.  Norwegian Cruise Line extends its deepest sympathies to the guest’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Norwegian Sun departed Port Canaveral, Florida on October 29, 2011.  The ship is sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary and had visited Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday."

November 7, 2011 Update:

Several passengers have left comments below.  One passenger, Kate, sent us a photograph of one the rescue boats.  (The exposure of the photo was adjusted substantially because it was very dark).

"Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun Ends with Rape Allegation against NCL

A fellow Miami lawyer filed a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Lines ("NCL") on behalf of a passenger who alleges that she was raped while aboard the Norwegian Sun cruise ship.

Cruise Pub Crawl - Norwegian SunThe alleged incident occurred in April when the passenger was participating in an NCL organized "pub crawl."   

NCL employees took her and other guests around the ship stopping briefly to drink at various bars where the bartenders encouraged the passengers to drink above safe limits.  After the drinking game, the passenger alleges that she was raped in a public bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges that NCL created a dangerous situation by over-serving the guest alcohol to the point that she could not protect herself and not escorting her safely back to her cabin.

Several years ago, an appellate court here in Miami held that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol to and then past the level of intoxication.  The fact that the passenger voluntarily drank the alcohol does not act as a bar to the legal claim.

NCL Crew Member Medevaced to Bermuda

Norwegian Sun Cruise ShipThe Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a crew member from the the Norwegian Sun cruise ship was transported to Bermuda because of a medical emergency.

The Norwegian Cruise Line ship was near Bermuda after sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida en route to the Azores when the 23 year old Peruvian crew member became ill.

The cruise ship took the crew member off the ship by stretcher to a pilot vessel which transported her to the island of Bermuda where she was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Cruise Lines like NCL have a non-delegable duty to provide prompt, adequate and complete medical care to their ill and injured crew members. 

Medevacs involving crewmembers are relatively rare, especially compared to medical evacuations of passengers.