Crimes to cruise passengers may occur on board of cruise ships/ferry boats, as well as in ports or on tour excursions while the boat is docked.  Therefore, these crimes quickly constitute cross-border crimes. More information is provided on our section on Cross-Border Crimes.

Cruise ship related crimes may be committed by crew members, fellow passengers, strangers, or career criminals  – tourists are often seen as easy targets.

Crimes related to cruise ships can include:

  • Theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Murder
  • Fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • Etc.

The Athens Convention 1974 and the 2002 Protocol to the Convention deal with the liability of the carrier for carriage of passengers and their luggage. These establish a framework under which ship/ferry passengers who have died or been injured, or whose property has been damaged, may claim compensation. This framework sets financial limits of liability for carriers for claims by passengers and establishes a strict two-year time period to claim compensation.

The Passenger Liability Regulation (PLR – https://www.shipownersclub.com/passenger-liability-regulation-update/) implements this framework in EU membe-states, creating a single set of rules across the EU Member States governing the obligations of carriers to passengers travelling by sea in the event of an accident.

General victims’ rights in the EU are established under The Victim’s Rights Directive (https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/criminal-justice/protecting-victims-rights_en). The directive sets out the 6 key rights available to all victims of all types of crime that take place in any member state. To know more about your rights as a victim of crime, visit the victims’ rights section on our website.

The following links will allow you to further familiarise yourself with your rights as a victim of crime, and more specifically of a crime on a cruise:

Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 Text with EEA relevance. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2010/1177/oj

Cruise ship crime taking place outside the 12-mile territorial water limit of any EU Member State is not regulated by the EU, but by the country that registered the ship. In ports and within territorial waters, all crimes are dealt with by the local authorities – whether these are EU Member States or not. Penalties, whether custodial or financial, will depend on the severity of the crime and on the outcome of any court case. However, all victims of crime in Europe are entitled to compensation and restitution under the Victim’s Rights Directive. To know more about your rights as a victim of crime, visit the victims’ rights section on our website. Other websites also provide more information on possible legal action, and illustrate the difficulties and possibilities concerning jurisdiction:

Cruise ship crimes include a set of very diverse situations, and can range from theft to murder. Victims will include people of any age, from any nationality, and from any background. There are some simple steps that can be taken to protect yourself and your belongings. These include the following measures:

  • Buy travel insurance and travel assistance before sailing
  • Photocopy your important documents
  • Pay attention during the muster drill
  • Get to know your steward
  • Buddy up – avoid moving about unaccompanied
  • Never leave children unaccompanied
  • Use your safe to store valuable objects and identification documents
  • Use a mugger’s wallet
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash
  • Don’t reveal your room number
  • Use the peep hole to know who is at the other side of the door

More information on these protection measures are set out in the following sites:

It is important to note that the impact of crime is felt differently by each person. Every reaction of victims is normal when faced with an unexpected and potentially painful experience of crime.

The impacts of crime can be physical, psychological, social and economic, among others, and can last for long after the event. In the immediate aftermath, physical effects can be an increased heart rate, heavy or shallow breathing, sweating, dry mouth, tense muscles, feeling unable to move, feeling jittery or shaky, as the body is on high alert for further threats. These immediate effects can impact the psychological state of the victim and may lead them to act irrationally, to misunderstand information, to have issues remembering the event or what is communicated to them, and even act opposite to their best interest. Depending on the type of crime and the degree of physical violence, medical assistance might be necessary, as well as psychological first aid.

On the long-term, physical effects can linger on. For example, victims can experience recurrent loss of energy, muscle pain, headaches and/or migraines, menstruation disorders, cold sensations, shivering and/or hot flashes, digestive problems and high blood pressure, even long after the crime has taken place. Psychological effects of crime can also persist, or develop, on the long-term. These effects can include anxiety, difficulty concentrating, guilt, depression, isolation, trouble while sleeping, post-traumatic stress disorder, among other reactions.

There are also important possible social consequences of victimisation, such as the abovementioned isolation and tense relationships with those surrounding the victim. Victims have to rethink their relationship with the world around them, and the reactions of their surroundings may increase their inclination to isolate themselves. For instance, surroundings may misunderstand the victim’s reactions, or even blame the victim to preserve their own world views. Economically, the consequences of crime encompass the costs of medical or psychological support, or the costs of absenteeism from work due to the previous mentioned consequences of crime.

Being a victim of crime on a cruise ship or in a foreign port, can leave you feeling vulnerable and emotionally distressed. You may feel it is no longer safe to travel. It may be hard to come to terms with what has happened, and you may have problems coping with the aftermath of the crime. Whether or not you knew the offender, you may question why you were targeted and how you could have prevented the situation – you may feel overwhelmed and this can cause you to withdraw from family, friends and others who can assist you.

If you believe you have been the victim of a crime on a cruise ship or in a foreign port, there are several things you can do immediately, to ease the harm or loss you feel:

  • Report the crime to the ship’s security officer (at sea) or to the local law enforcement office (in port)
  • Make a list of missing items
  • Take photographs of any damage
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Contact your consulate. There you can request replacement driving license/ID/travel pass
  • Report the loss of your passport
  • Tell your bank if your debit/credit cards have been stolen
  • Inform your network provider if your phone has been stolen
  • Ensure you receive copies of reports from the ship or local law enforcement

More information on the effects of the crime you might experience, and on the possible action you can take, can be found on the following websites:

It is important that you report the crime as soon as you can, if you wish to do so, as this will assist in apprehending the perpetrator. In the case of missing persons, immediate reporting is of paramount importance.

You can contact the ship’s security or the local police either by phone, in person or even online. Use the emergency phone number of the police if there is an immediate danger; otherwise you can use the regular police number when you are at sea. If the crime took place in a port, or on an excursion, you can report the incident to the local police in person.

Should you choose not to report to the police, you can still report it to the ship’s personnel.

Contact your local victim support organisation for any assistance you need.

Upon reporting, you will need to give details of the crime, such as:

  • Date, time, place of the crime
  • If known, who carried out the crime
  • What was stolen, damaged or harmed
  • Who got hurt, if anyone did
  • Who is missing, should anyone be missing
  • Who was a witness, should there have been any

You should be given a crime report number. – In case the crime took place in European territorial waters, a police investigator will be allocated to your complaint. The officer will handle the progress of your file up to and including the trial stage, assuming the criminal is apprehended and brought to justice. You will be informed of your rights as a victim and you will be told what to expect if your case is brought before a jury.  Importantly, you have the right to legal assistance in all EU member states and the right to an interpreter if the trial takes place outside your own country. For more information on rights during the investigation, you can read the page on victims’ rights.

If you’ve been affected by crime on a cruise ship, there are a number of ways you can contact support services to get assistance or information.

  • Get support locally. Contact your nearest victim support team
  • Report the crime at your local police station

Reporting a cruise crime

It is important that you report the crime as soon as you can, if you wish to do so, as this will assist in apprehending the perpetrator. In the case of missing persons, immediate reporting is of paramount importance.

You can contact the ship’s security or the local police either by phone, in person or even online. Use the emergency phone number of the police if there is an immediate danger; otherwise you can use the regular police number when you are at sea. If the crime took place in a port, or on an excursion, you can report the incident to the local police in person.

Should you choose not to report to the police, you can still report it to the ship’s personnel.

Contact your local victim support organisation for any assistance you need.

Upon reporting, you will need to give details of the crime, such as:

  • Date, time, place of the crime
  • If known, who carried out the crime
  • What was stolen, damaged or harmed
  • Who got hurt, if anyone did
  • Who is missing, should anyone be missing
  • Who was a witness, should there have been any

You should be given a crime report number. – In case the crime took place in European territorial waters, a police investigator will be allocated to your complaint. The officer will handle the progress of your file up to and including the trial stage, assuming the criminal is apprehended and brought to justice. You will be informed of your rights as a victim and you will be told what to expect if your case is brought before a jury.  Importantly, you have the right to legal assistance in all EU member states and the right to an interpreter if the trial takes place outside your own country. For more information on rights during the investigation, you can read the page on victims’ rights.

 

The 116 006 helps victims of crime by informing them of their rights and how to use these, offering emotional support, while also referring victims to relevant organisations. As a single access point, it will provide information about local police and criminal justice proceedings, possibilities for compensation and insurance matters, and other sources of help for victims of crime.

Victim Support Europe’s member organisation International Cruise Victims Association has gathered the stories of victims, so that their brave voices are heard, and other victims know that they are not alone. To read their stories, please click here.

Other useful information can be found on the following pages: