Every single year millions of people step onto cruise ships wanting to take a break from the real world and live on a giant floating paradise. The break from reality is not just a relaxing cognitive separation, it’s also in many ways a legal one. The laws that are intended (supposedly) to keep order in our society, don’t have much effect out in the seas. While this may sound like an ideal world to gamblers, it’s the worst-case scenario for someone who is the victim of an onboard crime. While the Golden Age of piracy is long gone, pirates still occupy the ocean. Back in 2005, a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia was hit with grenades. While the hijacking was ultimately unsuccessful, encountering pirates is rare and there are more crimes which are statistically more probable onboard a cruise ships. Things like theft, battery, and even sexual assault are possible. According to data that was provided by the largest cruise companies in the world, twenty-eight people have disappeared in the open sea (three of which have been found), and nearly 200 people have reported sexual misconduct and rape — and that’s just in the past three years. Maritime laws, the ambiguous and unclear regulations that rule the open seas, make it difficult to enforce the laws of the U.S. out at sea. Only afew of those cases have been investigated, let alone solved. The issue is maritime law. Maritime law is the set of laws that apply to the international waters, and they are about as convoluted as can be. Maritime laws are so loose and unregulated, it does not require cruise ships who sail outside of the normal boundaries and traverse into international waters to divulge their crime statistics data to any governing body. And as to who is supposed to initiate the investigation is up in the air. So what happens when you are the victim of a crime in a cruise ship? Here’s what goes into consideration when attempting to parce together a case for a crime committed on a cruise ship:
International Waters: Areas like bays and ports are within the boundaries of a country. That means that the laws of the land in which the ship is docked apply to the ship, passengers, and its crew.
Territorial Waters: Typically, a country’s laws apply up to 12 miles out at sea. So a U.S. cruise ship cannot commence its gambling activities until after its sailed past the 12-mile mark.
Contiguous Zone: It’s within this area – 12 to 24 miles that a nation begins to lose jurisdiction, but not completely. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard is allowed to board any ship suspected of carrying drugs, regardless of its national origin.
High Seas: Here, the law of the ship mirrors that of the ship’s origin. So an American ship 25 miles off the coast of China is subject to American law. It can be a difficult legal process, but your best bet is to call a qualified legal attorney. We have the resources and the right legal team to help you with your case. We don’t collect any upfront fees, and you only pay if we successfully try your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.