What Is The Most Common Crime On Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships are supposed to be vacation getaways where you can forget your troubles and spend a few weeks away from stress. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. Like on land, people on cruise ships are also subject to many crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault.

Of all the crimes committed, which one is most prevalent?

Sexual assault is the most commonly reported crime on cruise ships, making up a third of all crimes reported on cruise ships from 2010 to 2022. This has become more of an issue over the years as the popularity of cruise ships has grown immensely. Victims range from the staff onboard cruise ships to the passengers attending the cruise.

There are several reasons why the rate of this specific crime is so high and why it is difficult to curb. We will also discuss other crimes that closely follow sexual assault and can make many individuals reconsider taking the opportunity to go on a cruise.

Stay with us to find out more about sexual assault on cruise ships and the reasons behind it.

Why Is Sexual Assault So Prevalent On Cruise Ships?

As already mentioned, the rate of sexual assault on cruise ships surpasses that of any other crime, presenting unique challenges due to the isolated nature of the environment at sea. Legal proceedings can only take place once the boat returns to land, making investigation and response more complex.

Apart from the logistical difficulties, several factors contribute to the widespread occurrence of sexual assault on cruise ships. Let’s explore these underlying reasons to gain a deeper understanding of the issue:

Lack Of Security On Cruise Ships

The first and foremost reason for most crimes is a lack of security. While cruise ships have some guards and cameras for customer supervision, they often play a role in these heinous crimes. Many cases only occur because they are in the hands of employees or cruise ship staff.

Other than sexual assault committed by staff members, numerous issues still exist where a passenger may commit this act with another passenger or even cruise ship staff.

If there is no system to account for these staff members, who freely go in and out of passengers’ rooms, the cases will only continue to rise. Other than sexual assault committed by staff members, numerous issues still exist where a passenger may commit this act with another passenger or even cruise ship staff.

This is where the lack of security plays a part because many cruise liners do not adequately set up cameras in every spot and leave various loose ends. The crew should thoroughly look into and rectify these loopholes to prevent crimes of this nature.

Over-The-Top Guidelines

If you thought the statistics for reported sexual assaults were high, you’d be surprised to hear these are probably not the actual figures. The reason is that many cases go unreported as they do not comply with the guidelines and policies of cruise liners to label the act as sexual assault.

It is also the primary reason sexual assault is so common amongst cruise lines, as there is very little accountability. In 2011, only 85 out of 149 cases of alleged sexual assault were reported and shown to the public, as the other 64 cases did not fall under sexual assault requirements and hence were not disclosed to the public.

Those in charge must reconsider these outdated guidelines to rectify this issue and revise them so that vacationers feel safe when going on cruise lines without fearing being assaulted and traumatized for life.

Low Follow-Through Rates

Another persistent problem on cruise ships is the need for follow-up after reporting these crimes. As stated above, legal actions are mostly taken only when the cruise ship returns to land. As a result, many cruise ship officials do not act correctly or take the necessary precautions to report these assaults.

Due to this inadequate accountability system, many individuals follow through with their wrongdoings without considering the consequences. If we want to prevent this from happening, the officials present on the cruise ship must follow a proper course of action and take the accused into custody until the boat docks.

More Younger Cruise Passengers

More younger cruise passengers is a critical statistic to consider. The reason is that the more younger individuals become interested in cruise ships, the perpetrators have easier targets to commit these crimes.

Especially since many families have also started vacationing on cruise ships, kids are often left unattended, posing a grave danger as many can’t clearly understand what is happening.

Groups of teenagers or adolescents are also at risk of being victims of this crime as they are more prone to being assaulted by older individuals. Since some younger victims still do not speak up about these incidents occurring during their cruises, it is hard to estimate this crime’s prevalence within this demographic.

Failing To Report Crimes

The failure of cruise liners to report these crimes to the public is a significant hindrance in working towards preventing this issue altogether. Since passengers are less likely to go on cruise ships with high crime rates, especially sexual assault, many cruise liners do not adequately report these crimes or hide the statistics altogether.

As a result, we cannot gauge the extent to which this crime is happening, leading to insufficient resource allocation to stop it. If cruise liners were to take on more responsibility and accurately report these crimes, there might be a better way to end these crimes or minimize their occurrence.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Sexual Assault

Now that we know that sexual assault is, in fact, quite prevalent amongst cruise-goers, let us talk about how you and your loved ones can stay safe from this.

Don’t Roam Around Alone

A standard lesson most of us are taught when going to unfamiliar places is never to go out alone – the same goes for cruise ships. Cruise ships have corridors and hallways without end, and these are easy to get lost in.

Even though you cannot memorize the entire layout of the boat, the chances of you getting assaulted are significantly reduced if you are with someone.

So if you’re on a cruise ship and need to use the bathroom or maybe explore the other areas of the boat, always make sure to travel in pairs or, better yet, groups. This can help prevent you from being a victim of this widespread crime.

Always Keep Children In-Sight

Children are one of the primary victims of sexual offenders, especially those that are left unattended. Larger cruise ships have a never-ending number of rooms with many people living there. This is why it is best to always watch your children closely.

If you need to run some errands, always have them stay with someone you trust, as staff members usually have spare keys to passengers’ rooms.

Carry A Travel Door Lock

With the increased level of crime, especially at motels, rented apartments, or even cruise ships, it is necessary to always carry a portable door lock with you. You can attach these small devices behind your room to stop anyone else from entering, even if they have a keycard.

These locks can also help prevent break-ins or petty theft because theft of over $10,000 is the second most reported crime amongst cruise ships. If you carry any valuables or just lounge in your room most of the time, this device could be a lifesaver.

Watch Your Drinks

One of the main ways sexual predators take control of their victims is by spiking their drinks. It is a common tactic in most Western countries, where almost every cruise has a bar. If you need to unwind and relax at a bar, always take extra precautions before ingesting anything, as someone with drugs could spike it.

To avoid this and reduce the chances of sexual assault from happening, you should always order your drinks and avoid drinks from strangers. This could help you out and keep you safe from unwanted interactions.

Other Common Crimes On Cruise Ships?

While sexual assault is the most common crime committed on cruise ships, it is not the only crime you should be aware of. Theft of over $10,000 comes in second place, while assault and battery take the third spot in the Department of Transportation’s list of most common crimes on cruise ships.


The guidelines of cruise ship security indicated that only theft of over $10,000 was to be considered, which might be why it isn’t ranked number one. However, this does not mean that petty theft accompanies this crime side-by-side.

With the lack of cameras inside rooms, it can seem easy to commit theft if no one’s watching.

Someone stealing your valuables from your room or taking out your wallet with a sleight of hand are common occurrences on cruise ships. This can lead to significant losses for many people and leaves a bad memory of their time spent on the cruise.

The statistics indicate that many people are also robbed of large amounts.

To stop this from happening to you, you can apply some of the tactics we mentioned above, such as installing a secret door lock. This will prevent anyone from entering your room while you’re not there.

Also, be cautious of your purse/wallet when outside, and don’t leave anything unattended, such as your phone.

Assault And Battery

Assault and battery is the third most common crime committed on cruise ships and can happen to anyone, even in the light of day. Assault and battery include any action that induces fear of imminent harm to an individual or actual injury to the person.

This is very common among vacationers who get riled up on minor issues. It can also be due to intoxicated passengers drinking too much and losing control of their actions. Regardless of the reasoning, it is hazardous and costly if not dealt with swiftly.

To avoid this crime, staying away from crowded areas is best. Overcrowded areas often turn into small packs of fighting where people are trying to remove others to open up some space. You should also not interfere or participate in altercations between other cruise passengers and instead let the concerned authorities handle the matter.

This can significantly help you avoid being a victim of assault and battery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Were Crime Statistics So Low Between 2020 And 2022?

It was primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of most recreational activities. As cruise ships have large gatherings of people in a small environment, they were shut down until the pandemic was well under control and it was safe to travel again.

Which Cruises Had the Highest Crime Rates In Recent Years?

The Royal Caribbean had the highest number of reported cases of sexual assault at 66 total cases, followed by Carnival Cruise line, which reported 57 incidents in 2019. High crime rates in these cruise liners may be due to the increased passenger volume.

Are Crimes Committed More By Cruise Staff Members Or Passengers?

In a study done on sexual assault on cruise ships in 2014, it was reported that 88% of the cases had staff members as the culprits, while passengers committed 12% of the acts. This shows a stark contrast in safety among staff members much more than among other passengers.

Final Thoughts

With increasing crime rates, individuals should be cautious and do a thorough work-up before entertaining any ideas regarding taking a cruise. However, this does not mean you should stop going on cruises altogether.

Take precautions, follow our steps to minimize the chances of something terrible happening, and enjoy the rest of the experience. By holding cruise liners accountable for security measures, reporting accurate crime statistics, and implementing modern guidelines, we can collectively work towards creating a safer environment at sea.

Remember, awareness and preparedness are key to ensuring a memorable and trouble-free vacation on a cruise ship. Stay vigilant and prepared against potential risks.

Daniel Clarke

The website is run by myself Daniel Clarke, I’m lucky enough to have been living in Hervey Bay, for 31 years so I’m classed as a local I have seen many changes over this time. Read more about us here

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