Investigative

INSIDE EDITION Investigates Alleged Sexual Assault on Cruise Ship


INSIDE EDITION Investigates Alleged Sexual Assault on Cruise Ship

On board Carnival's luxurious cruise ships there's fun for the whole family. Water slides, sun-kissed pools, and parties every night.

But behind all that fun, some critics say there’s a danger lurking aboard these floating cities that many women don't really think about - sexual assault.

There have been more than 150 reported cases of alleged rape and sexual assault aboard cruise ships that visit U.S. ports since 2010.  

In an exclusive interview, INSIDE EDITION spoke to a young woman, who says she was brutally raped on board a Carnival cruise ship last year.

“I remember being scared,” said 28 year-old Tristin, who asked us not to use her last name in this report.

Tristin said it was two Carnival crew members who allegedly held her down in their cabin and raped her, repeatedly.  “One of the thoughts that kept going through my head was 'my God,' they're going to throw me overboard and no one is ever going to find me,” she said.

Photos obtained by INSIDE EDITION show the crew members undergoing a breathalyzer test after Tristin went to security and told them she was attacked. The crew members say the sex was consensual.

She admits that she was drinking a lot that night; and she doesn't remember how she even ended up in their cabin. But Tristin says the sex was not consensual.

“It was not consensual. I was violently raped. I thought they were going to kill me,” she said with tears streaming down her face.

Tristin is suing Carnival Cruise Lines. Her lawyer Jack Hickey said, “It’s a horrible thing that happened. These two guys were animals that the cruise line had dealing with the public.”

Carnival denies any wrongdoing and no criminal charges were filed against the two crew members.

In court papers filed in response to the lawsuit, Carnival said, "crew contact with guests should be limited and related to the performance of his or her job."

So we decided to investigate whether some employees are getting too cozy with passengers.

Lisa Guerrero boarded the Carnival Fascination with an INSIDE EDITION staffer for a four day cruise to the Bahamas last month.

On the first night, after sunset, we spotted two uniformed officers looking for women at the ship’s main bar. They flirted with Guerrero and asked her to try their alcoholic drinks. She declined.

Later, we spotted them in the ship's disco, where they were dirty dancing with 20-year-old twins.

On another night we saw them wearing their dress whites and carousing with the same girls, who give the officers a double kiss on the cheek.

Another time we watched the officers making out with the twins on the dance floor. Later that night, they all left the disco together and we saw the four of them standing outside the twins’ stateroom.

The last night of the cruise Guerrero spoke to the two Casanova officers. Guerrero asked, “I've noticed you guys the last few nights drinking with women, you've been dancing with women. You were even making out with very young women on the dance floor. Is that appropriate?”

“No. We do nothing. Just, we met them,” said one of the officers, who claimed he and his fellow officer were only being friendly.

“Are you hooking up with women on this cruise?” asked Guerrero.

“Yeah, we met them,” he said.

Guerrero approached the other officer and asked him if kissing young passengers on the cruise ship was part of his job.  

He responded in broken English: “No. Not kiss. Just only friend.”

The officers denied they ever crossed the line.  

As for Tristin, she's now urging the cruise ship industry to protect female passengers.

In a statement, Carnival told us “the safety of our guests and crew is our foremost priority…We strongly invest in training and personnel to ensure our ships are safe and enjoyable.”

Carnival declined an on-camera interview and sent us the following two part statement:

With respect to the alleged assault:

We took immediate and comprehensive action to carefully preserve and gather evidence, support the alleged victim, and detain the alleged perpetrators.  We promptly reported the matter to multiple law enforcement authorities which ultimately are responsible for investigating and prosecuting alleged crimes.  The cruise line took all appropriate measures to aid and support the law enforcement process in this case.  Ultimately, the FBI chose not to prosecute.

With respect to crew/guest fraternization:

Officers and crew, depending on job role, are permitted to socialize with guests within certain parameters.  We have a clearly defined policy in place and take aggressive action in situations when this policy is proven to be violated, regardless of the circumstances.

We have a number of mechanisms and deterrents in place to help prevent any type of issues on board that have proven to be very effective over the years, especially when considering the very low rate of crime on ships compared to much higher rate of crimes committed in cities throughout the world.
 
The safety of all guests and crew is our foremost priority and we strongly invest in training and personnel to ensure our ships are safe and enjoyable for the 4.5 million guests who sail with us each year.