CBS News Boston reports that the Massachusetts State Police and FBI agents were called to the Norwegian Breakaway around 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday while the NCL cruise ship was docked at the Black Falcon Terminal in Boston. The ship’s itinerary indicates that it previosly sailed from New York on September 11th and had left Rhode Island earlier on September 12th.

The law enforcement investigations “revealed the alleged assault took place previously while the ship was making way somewhere between Providence and Boston,” State Police spokesman Dave Procopio told WBZ-TV in an email Wednesday. “The suspect and victim are both employees of the ship.”

Sexual assault is the number one crime reported on cruise ships, according to data maintained by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Cruise lines are legally required to report sexual assaults as well as certain other crimes which occur on their ships pursuant to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. In the past, the cruise ship crime data was maintained by the DOT and available on an internet portal. Unfortunately, the DOT stopped reporting the data in April of 2021 as the cruise industry struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the DOT was still reporting about rapes on cruise ships before COVID-19 shut the industry down, there were seventeen (17) sexual assaults on NCL ships reported from January 2019 through March 31, 2020. During the same time period, there were fifty-three (53) rapes on Carnival Cruise Line ships and thirty-three (33) rapes on Royal Caribbean operated cruise ships. Most such alleged sex crimes on cruises go unprosecuted.

There is not much information in the local CBS news account. The report that the Massachsetts State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) both responded sounds unusual, because in most cases only the FBI has jurisdiction to investigate crimes involving U.S. citizens on cruise ships.  When a cruise ship departs and returns to a port in Florida, both the FBI and Florida state/local law enforcements officers have jurisdiction when a U.S. citizen is the victim or perpetrator.

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Image Credit: Norwegian Breakaway – CBS News Boston / CBS4 Boston / WBZ-TV