The Department of Transportation (DOT) cruise crime statistics, mandated by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, continue to show that Carnival Cruise Line remains by far the most likely cruise line to experience physical and sexual violence at sea.

Assaults With Serious Bodily Injury

Carnival Cruise Line reported eight (8) assaults with serious bodily injury in the first three month of this year. No other cruise line reported a single act of violence resulting in serious injuries in the first quarter of this year. Last year (2023), there were a total or twenty-two (22) violent physical assaults leading to serious injury throughout the cruise industry. Carnival Cruise Line had the majority (14) of such incidents.

Sexual Violence

The first quarter DOT cruise crime data also reveals that Carnival Cruise Line remains the cruise brand with the most sexual violence at sea. Carnival Cruise line reported that there were nine (9) instances of sexual assault / rape on its twenty-seven ships, with Royal Caribbean (with the same number of ships but a higher number of passengers) having eight (8) such crimes.

Overall, all cruise lines reported a total of thirty-two (32) sexual assaults / rapes for the first quarter of 2024. The DOT data for the fourth quarter of last year (2023) reveals that fleet-wide for all cruise lines there were thirty-three (33) sexual assaults / rapes, bringing the total annual number of sexual assaults / rapes on cruise ships for 2023 to one hundred and thirty-one (131) such alleged crimes. There were eighty-nine (89) sexual assaults reported by cruise lines in all of 2022. Based on first quarter data, the projected annual number of sexual violence incidents for 2024 is 128 sexual assaults / rapes.

The Miami New Times (Naomi Feinstein) reported on the cruise crime increase in 2023 earlier this year. “A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) states that 131 alleged incidents of sexual assault and rape were reported on cruise ships last year – a marked increase beyond the 2022 total of 87 and the pre-pandemic total of 101 in 2019.”

The number of alleged sexual crimes reported on Carnival Cruise Line ships during the last quarter is the same amount of such alleged crimes (9) during the last three months of 2023. Last year Carnival Cruise Line had a total of forty-five (45) sexual assaults / rapes. Considering it has around 115,000 passengers and crew members onboard its fleet on an average day, this turns out to be a per capita rate (per 100,000) of over 41. Carnival Cruise Line’s projected annualized sexual crimes for this year, again based on the first quarter numbers, turns out to be 38 per 100,000, which is equal to or higher than twenty states in the U.S. (Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has closer to 150,000 passengers and crew members on the same number of ships – 27 – at any given time).

Why Does Carnival Cruise Line Have The Highest Number of Sexual Assaults and Physical Assaults Leading to Serious Bodily Injury?

There is a direct correlation between excessive alcohol served on Carnival’s “fun ships” and violence, in general, and sexual violence against women, in particular. Bartenders and waiters on Carnival cruise ships are not paid a salary by Carnival but depend on tips and gratuities. The bartenders are motivated to sell excessive amounts of alcohol in order to earn a living. There is no independent police force on these increasingly huge cruise ships. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse in what is often a lawless environment.

This is a cruise line which has made a conscious decision not to warn its guests of the danger of violence and sexual violence during cruises on its “fun ships.” Consider: Carnival Cruise Passenger Viciously Beaten and Cut in the Face With Bar Glass.

The reality of a “typical cruise,” on a Carnival ship from Miami to the Bahamas, for example, involves cruising on a ship in the most dangerous fleet at sea to one of the most dangerous cruise destination in the world. Consider: Two Guests From the Carnival Elation Report Being Drugged and Raped During Excursion in the Bahamas, cruise lines have an absolute duty to warn its passengers of crime dangers not only on its ships but in the ports of call where they visit. This is true whether the cruise guests are on an excursion promoted and sold by the cruise line or an independant excursion unrelated to the cruise line. Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., S.A.,475 So. 2d 248, 251 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1985), Chaparro v. Carnival, 693 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2012).

“Fight Ships” Not “Fun Ships?”

You only have to watch the numerous YouTube videos of bar brawls on Carnival ships to realize that there’s a good reason why many people call Carnival ships the “fight ships” rather than the “fun ships.” The DOT cruise crime data bears this out.

Carnival Refuses to Acknowledge Its High Crimes Rates

Carnival Cruise Line has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the high crime rates on its cruise ships. Its corporate communication department consistently tries to minimize the danger to the traveling public. Earlier this year, Chris Chiames, chief communications officer for Carnival Cruise Line, tried to minimize Carnival’s numerous crimes alleged on its ships, telling the Washington Post that Carnival (which carried 5.5 million guests last year) allegedly operated “a much bigger fleet, more guests and more U.S. operations than any of our competitors.”

Carnival’s claims that its fleet is allegedly larger and it carries more guests is false and misleading. In fact, Carnival Cruise Line also has the same number of cruise ships as Royal Caribbean (each own 27 ships). But Royal Caribbean has significantly larger cruise ships with greater capacity and carries more passengers than Carnival at any given time. Royal Caribbean carries a maximum of over 100,000 passengers whereas Carnival Cruise Line has a maximum of around 85,000 passengers.

Carnival Cruise Line also has a tradition of refusing to accept accountability and misrepresenting information which it finds to be detrimental to its reputation and business interests. For example, when Carnival Corporation pled guilty to the second revocation of its criminal probation for widespread pollution in January of 2022, the Department of Justice stated that the cruise line has “a culture that seeks to minimize or avoid information that is negative, uncomfortable, or threatening to the company, including to top leadership.” This is an integral part of the problem with the sexual and violent crimes alleged to be committed on cruise ships it operates. A recidivist corporate cruise felon like Carnival, with its culture of cover ups, lies and misinformation, will inevitably try to cover-up the crimes, blame the victims and lie to the public.

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Image credit: Carnival Liberty leaving Miami – Jim Walker; Carnival Magic in Norfolk, VA- Jim Walker.