Maritime Law – Understanding the Danger of Cruise Ship Crimes

cruise ship on the open water. Exploring the vast seas on a cruise can provide people with an opportunity to experience new sights and cultures. Unfortunately, as recent news reports have shown, cruise ships can come with their own perils. While one might not have to worry about having a cruise ship stall in the middle of a voyage, there are still plenty of hazards that can be encountered on the high seas. One such hazard that is always relevant is crime. While cruise ship crime might seem limited, there are a number of safety precautions that cruise ship passengers should consider when embarking on a cruise.

Cruise Ship Crimes

While cruises are supposed to be enjoyable trips, the truth is that crime can happen anywhere. While most people may think that cruise ship crime is limited to only theft of luggage or other personal effects, in fact, a wide variety of crimes can occur at sea, ranging from theft, to assault, to murder. Below is an exploration of only a few types of cruise ship crimes.


Theft is a common form of cruise ship crime. Theft can occur as the removal of one’s personal effects from his or her luggage or room, but cruise ship crimes are not solely limited to those that occur while on the ship. For example, only a few years ago, 22 cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint during a shore excursion. In addition to theft from other passengers or other persons, individuals must also be aware of potential theft from cruise staff.

While theft of physical items is a common form of theft, it is not the only form of theft. In the modern age, cruise passengers must be more and more vigilant regarding risks like identity theft. Even though it can be easy to relax on a cruise, and while it is important to enjoy a vacation, it is equally important to be aware of your surroundings in order to make the appropriate choices.


Vacationing on a cruise ship allows passengers to relax and enjoy the sights. Unfortunately, even a small altercation with another person, whether they are staff or passenger, can put a damper on what would have been an enjoyable experience. While passengers may have to be concerned with the risk of assault from other passengers, the truth is that assault can happen at any time and can be caused by any person. While enclosed environments and stress can lead to some assaults, as one might expect, copious amounts of alcohol leading to intoxication can also lead to assaults occurring while on a cruise. While a cruise passenger, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and to be  aware of the people around you.

Sexual Assault

Finally, there is the matter of sexual assault upon cruise ships. It is important to remember that sexual assault, much like any other cruise ship crime, can happen at any time and in any place. In addition, perpetrators of sexual assault may even be members of the cruise ship staff. Being aware of the situation and taking appropriate safety precautions can help to prevent a number of potentially dangerous incidents.

Additional Risks

Unfortunately, criminal activity is not the only factor that cruise-goers should be aware of. One of the most prominent risks that might be present on any cruise is a lack of adequate security. While an understaffed cruise can create a higher risk of crime on a cruise ship, that is not the only form of inadequate security, as under-trained security can also prove to be hazardous to cruise passengers.

Crimes committed on cruises may be subject to various international laws due to the mobile nature of the cruise. When on a cruise, it is important to be aware that investigations by cruise ships may not be sufficient to assist victims of crimes. While it may seem like a simple thing to report a crime to the cruise deck, most people are prevented from doing so simply because they are in contained quarters with the criminal, and any further action could open them up to retaliation. In addition, many cruise ships operate on international waters, which may subject them to a different standard of care regarding the investigation of criminal activity. This can be especially true when a cruise passenger’s safety is not guaranteed due to inadequate staffing.