Modern day cruise ships, often referred to as floating cities, employ thousands of crew members in order to accommodate an even larger number of passengers. While cruise companies supposedly put passenger comfort first, crew members have reportedly suffered from overwork and underpay for decades. Many cruise ship workers come from poor and depressed areas of the globe, and may simply be happy to have a job. But with the potential job security that comes with working aboard a cruise ship, some staff members have reported a corresponding disregard for crew member safety, even in cases in which one crew member sexually assaults or rapes another.
Dozens of newspapers have published exposés in recent years, which shed light on the culture shared among cruise ship crew members. For example, one recent article published by the Daily Mail in 2015 was titled “100-hour working weeks, sex below deck... and what they REALLY think of passengers: Confessions of a cruise ship worker”. Against the backdrop of this permissive atmosphere among crew members, every year several cruise ship workers report being sexually assaulted by their co-workers. In addition to the horror of the incident itself, some cruise ship workers say that their superiors were not helpful when they reported the crimes, and some have even claimed that ship authorities helped cover up the crimes.
Former cruise worker Shari Cecil reported her story to cruise victims’ website International Cruise Victims. In it, she says that she was raped by her bunkmate in 2004, while docked at a U.S. port. After reporting the incident to her superiors, Cecil says she was told that “Bad things happen to good people,” and “Just forget about it and get on with your life,” among other dismissing commentary. Her story is not unique among cruise crew members who have been victimized aboard the ships on which they work.
Cruise ship crew members do not surrender their rights upon agreeing to work for a cruise line. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped aboard a cruise ship, you can protect your rights, and help bring the perpetrator to justice, by following these steps.