Cozumel - Cruise Ship CrimeCrimes 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 Cozumel - Cruise Chip CrimeCaribbean 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

  • When going on a cruise i think some people do forget that there are some things they should keep an eye open for, knowing where they are going. I think the best thing to do while going off the ship is to keep valuables top a minimum and to be with a group of people. If not in a group of people to avoid any unneeded attention.

  • ThirdCruise

    Going on my third cruise this spring….went to Cozumel on my first and was the only port I was NOT comfortable in. High pressure shop owners and just the ‘feel’ of the place. I am NOT going to Cozumel this spring.

    Also, on the two crimes against the women on the Royal Caribbean cruise line….did they go ashore ALONE??? That is the first rule of thumb…NEVER go ANYWHERE in a foreign country alone….it’s NOT the USA…sheesh, I am just about afraid to go out alone in the USA anymore….THINK FIRST.

  • Tom Hart

    Having just returned from a Disney Cruise that had a stop in Cozumel, I can attest to the fact that the port is not as the cruise lines would like you to believe. The pressure from the locals to purchase “items” was unreal; and when you didn’t purchase they were extremely rude in both their verbal responses and their body language. Not a port I will be visiting again. 22 Year Marine veteran and I did not feel safe, even in our crowd of ten….

  • lakita hughes

    I was lookingn forward going to Mexico Cozumel in a couple of mouths and just wondering is its a great ideal to go with me and a friend. its just two of us going me and a freind girl. if you can get back with me as soon as possible.

  • joel

    Cozumel is a great place just like any other place in the world crime is there but some tourist they looking for the illegal stuff and they put themselves in a bad situation, my advise to them go and enjoy yes always looking around ad have a great time.

  • Sandyjeanie

    I’ve been to Cozumel numerous times. i’m sorry but I find some of the comments hard to believe. 1. If you shop at the stores where the cruise ships tell you to shop, I find it very hard to believe that you could be gang raped & no one would know. These are the stores that will have hundreds of cruise passengers shopping in them. Why? Because the cruise line told them to shop there. The stores & streets of Cozumel are very tiny & extremely CROWDED when the cruise ships are in port. To me, a lone shopper in Cozumel would have to have wandered off the beaten path & out of the cruise ship noted shopping district to end up brutally gang raped…or the whole damn port would have heard the attack. Sorry but…no. And 2. I have had only pleasant dealings with all the shop keepers & workers in Cozumel. No one was ever rude to me. Of course I was always very pleasant to them & at least tried to say Hello & Goodbye in Spanish…afterall it is their country & Spanish is their language. Yes…most of them do speak English but they love it when you attempt Spanish for them. And 3. I have never been pressured to buy anything in Cozumel, and no one was rude when I decided not to buy. All of Mexico…Cozumel included are a bartering country. You won’t see prices & of course the workers are going to attempt to barter with you…that is the way they do things. It is not rude or appalling of them to try to get you to barter so…don’t be rude when it happens. Say “No, gracias” with a pleasant smile & that should be the end of it. If you don’t enjoy the Mexican customs & ways, don’t go there…simple as that. I love Mexico & especially Cozumel.

  • Jamie

    I felt unsafe shopping in cosmel when my cruise ship docked my friend choose to do a exercuration and I thought I would shop it was very scary the shop people where very pushy I couldn’t even look without being pressured all the time even in the streets there was one shop I went in made one circle and quickly went back to the open door felt like if I didn’t get to the open door someone was going to shut it and I would be locked in very uncomfortable no I wouldn’t recommend it go with large crowds stay with a lot of travelers around u in the busy open areas I finally ended up walking a far close to the shore line back to the ship where I felt safe I didn’t feel that way in the Cayman Islands or even Jamaica as I did in cosmel