Crimes related to cruise ships can include:

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


Cruise passengers may fall victim to crime, while on board cruise ships/ferry boats, in ports, or on tour excursions, while their boat is docked.  The crimes may be committed by crew members, fellow passengers, strangers, or career criminals  – tourists are often seen as easy targets.

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. They establish a framework under which ship/ferry passengers, who have died or been injured, or whose property has been damaged, may claim compensation. The framework sets financial limits of liability for carriers for claims by passengers within a strict two-year time period.

The Passenger Liability Regulation (PLR) implements the framework in EU member 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.

Victims’ rights in the EU are established under The Victim’s Rights Directive. The directive sets out the 6 key rights available to all victims of all types of crime that take place in any member state.  The following links will allow you to familiarize yourself with your rights as a victim of crime file:



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 port 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.


As stated above, cruise ship crimes range from theft to murder and victims will include people of any age, from any region, and from any background.  There are some simple steps that can be taken to protect yourself and your belongings.  These include the following measures:


  • Drink responsibly
  • Buddy up
  • Practice in-cabin safety
  • Be safe on your balcony
  • Use your safe
  • Get to know your steward
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash
  • Don’t accept an invitation to crew quarters
  • Pay attention during the muster drill

Being a victim of crime on a cruise ship or in a foreign port, will leave you feeling vulnerable and emotionally distressed.  You may feel it is no longer feel 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 will 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 local law enforcement office (in port)
  • Make a list of missing items
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Take photographs of any damage
  • Contact your consulate
  • 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

It is important that you report the crime as soon as you can as this will assist in apprehending the criminal.  You should contact the ship’s security or the local police either by phone or in person.  If the crime is under way, you should use the appropriate emergency number, otherwise use any non-emergency numbers to file your complaint.  If the crime took place in port, or on an excursion, you should still report the incident to the ship’s personnel even if you decide not to report the crime to the local police. Contact your local Victim Support organization for assistance as soon as possible.


You will need to give details of the crime, such as:

  • Date, time, place of the event
  • If known, who carried out the theft, assault, vandalism
  • What was stolen or damaged
  • Were there any witnesses, who were they
  • Was anyone hurt
  • Is anyone missing


You should be given a crime report number and, if the crime took place in European territorial waters, a police investigator will be allocated 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.

Being a victim of a cruise crime is an emotional experience; you will be stressed and worried about your personal safety.  It is important to reach out for help: there are many organizations ready to support you when you are ready to ask for assistance. Victim Support offers free, confidential advice and help to all crime victims and its staff will work with you in the aftermath of your attack.

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.

  1. Get support locally. Contact your nearest Victim Support team
  2. Report the attack at your local police station
  3. Seek help from your local citizen’s advice center