Sexual Assault / Rape on cruise ships, unfortunately, happen with regulatory. Much is written about "crew on passenger" attacks, but not much is written about "passenger on passenger" attacks. This article is meant to give a maritime lawyer's insight on a cruise line's legal obligations and liabilities for such horrific situations involving the over serving of alcohol.
Tough cruise lines are not strictly liable for sexual assaults / rapes perpetrated by fellow passengers, they still may be liable for such attacks. A cruise line's duty to protect passengers extends to harm caused by fellow passengers in certain situations. Courts require cruise lines give their passengers proper protection from danger. Concerning an attack by a fellow passenger, the legal test is whether the cruise line knew or should have known that danger from a fellow passenger existed or was to be reasonably apprehended and whether the injury could have been prevented. A situation where a cruise line can be held liable for the sexual assaults / rapes by passengers under this legal test is by the over serving of alcohol.
A major source of revenue on cruise ships comes from the sale of alcohol. There are several bars and lounges located throughout the cruise ships. Cruise lines like Norwegian (NCL) have on board "pub crawl" activities where passengers are hurriedly taken from bar to bar where they encouraged to drink a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Royal Caribbean recently announced the introduction of an "all-you-can-drink" package entitling passengers to drink unlimited amounts of alcohol for the price of $29 a day. By encouraging the consumption of high amounts of alcohol, cruise lines create an environment where peoples' judgment are flawed which often times leads to violence and sexual attacks. This places passengers at risk of harm which can be easily avoided by limiting the sale of alcohol.
No amount of money can make up for being sexually assaulted. However, victims of cruise ship sexual assaults / rapes are entitled to compensation for medical treatment, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish and other injuries experienced in the past or likely to be experienced in the future.