Cruise companies go to great lengths to shield themselves from the laws in the various countries in which they operate. For example, we have written extensively on how cruise companies register their ships in countries which have laws that are laxer than those found in the U.S. as it relates to workers’ rights and wages.
The fact that the ships travel from port to port creates a unique set of circumstances for law enforcement officials investigating onboard crimes, a topic which was discussed in an article published today by MauiNews.com. The article cites the fact that if the ship departs from a U.S. state, “and a crime is committed onboard, the local police might investigate once the cruise liner returns to port. The feds have jurisdiction if a crime has occurred against a U.S. national on a ship that has departed or will arrive back in the States”.
The article goes on to explain that law enforcement officials usually have to wait until the ship returns to port in order to investigate the crime, a process which could take several days or weeks.
Due to the peculiarities associated with law enforcement and cruising, if you are ever a victim of cruise ship crime, especially sexual assault, we recommend taking the following steps to protect your rights and help ensure that justice will be served:
1. Report it to the ships infirmary and demand a rape kit exam. Do this before you take a shower.
2. Contact the FBI while you are still on the ship. The ships officers are supposed to facilitate this communication. Talk to the FBI yourself. The cruise line personnel will give a biased, sometimes inaccurate description.
3. Take photos and preserve evidence. You cannot depend on the cruise line to do this.
4. Get the names, street addresses, email addresses, and cell numbers of all witnesses to all aspects of what happened.
5. Get counseling when you get off the ship.