My Dream Is Shattered and My Attacker Goes Free -- Sexual Assault on NCL America
Received January 2008

It’s going on five years now since I was raped in my cabin by a fellow crew member.  I was working on board The Pride of Aloha, a US flagged vessel, sailing only in US waters and docked at a US port on the island of Maui.  The ship was operated by Norwegian Cruise Line America.  Since I was a US citizen, a US Merchant Marine, and stationed on board a US vessel I thought I was safe.  I wasn’t.

When I first interviewed with NCL, I asked the recruiters about safety and the security on board the vessels.  I was told, “You don’t have to worry, all security staff are ex-Israeli Commandos.  You don’t want to mess with these guys.”  So, safe in the knowledge NCL would hire such qualified security, I signed on as a crew member.  It was a lie.

On Dec. 18, 2004 I was asleep in my bunk when a cook climbed on top of me, raped me and destroyed my life.  To date he has never been prosecuted.  When it happened, and although no other country was involved, they couldn’t figure out who should investigate. No confusion from being under a foreign flag, no confusion of being away from US soil, but no investigating authority would take responsibility to investigate my rape.

After I was raped I reported it to my supervisors, the ship’s security, the ship’s medical center, Maui Memorial Hospital, the Maui Police Department, the US Coast Guard and the FBI.  No one took responsibility for investigating and this caused me additional trauma on top of the trauma of being raped.  Even though the Maui Police Department met me at Maui Memorial Hospital, they denied they were the investigating authority, therefore I could not receive a rape examination.

I couldn’t understand why a US citizen walking into a US hospital and reporting a rape would be refused a rape examine.  But in Hawaii the investigating authority has to be present before a rape examination is done – they are responsible for paying the bill.  The Maui Police Department told me it was the US Coast Guard that should be investigating and they were not present – so no rape kit. I offered to pay cash for the exam before I left the hospital if that was the problem.  I was told, “It doesn’t work that way.”

I was given one choice; I could wait on the island one or two days until the Coast Guard showed up.  I asked the police officer and the doctor, “If a rape examination is done 24-48 hours after being raped, would it hold up in court?”  Both the officer and doctor told me, “Probably not.”  After five hours in the emergency room trying unsuccessfully to receive a rape examination, I decided to board the ship to stay with the rest of the evidence.  We would be sailing that night to Honolulu where there was a Coast Guard station. It didn’t make any difference.

It took over a week for the Maui Police Department to change their minds and decide they were the investigating authority, but by this time it was too late for a rape kit.  Det. Lee from the Maui Police told me, “It would probably end up a he said, she said situation since no rape examination was done.”  He spoke with my rapist, who first stated he never stepped foot in my cabin, then he changed his story saying, “OK, yes we had sex, but she seduced me.”  Det. Lee believed my rapist and not me.  He declined to prosecute.

Since the night I was raped I have learned so much about rape, cruise ship crime and how being raped, without being believed, destroys your life.  On May 15, 2006 another cook got a hold of an illegal pass key, entered my cabin and once again woke me from a dead sleep.  This triggered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I have been unable to work since. My PTSD is now classified as Combat Level and I am on Social Security Disability offered by the federal government. I am unable to be around people, have night terrors, panic attacks, hyper vigilant about my safety, and on occasion, extreme anger.  I have been in therapy since June, 2006 and now have been referred to a clinical physiologist for EMDR treatment.  All of this because I wanted to fulfill my dream of becoming an Officer on board a cruise ship.

It doesn’t make any difference if you are a passenger or a crew member.  Cruise lines treat crime on board their vessels the same way.  Evidence is destroyed, covered up, or in my case, ignored all together.  The lines of investigating authorities are blurred.  If this happened to me on board a US flagged vessel, imagine the confusion of being a crime victim on a foreign flagged vessel.  You must realize the laws of the country the ship is flagged under apply, not the country where you live.  If you happen to be docked in a foreign country their laws will also apply.  When you step on board a cruise ship you are stepping onto foreign soil.

As a crew member, especially on a foreign flagged vessel, the usual response to crime is to fire both parties and put them off at the next port.  It is very easy for cruise lines to immediately send the assailant home and away from prosecution.  The crime victim is usually just fired causing many crew members hesitance in reporting crimes.  Cruise lines realize there are 10 people lined up behind you to take your job.  This isn’t my opinion; I was told this by one of my supervisors who had been transferred from the international fleet to the American fleet.  I was also told to, ”Get over it and get back to work, bad things happen to good people, and we don’t want to see this destroy your career.”  My supervisors actually asked me to go back to work beside my rapist.

The cruise industry insists you are safe.  They state millions of people take cruises every year and only a small amount of crime happens on board.  Let me put it this way….cruise ships are not large cities, they are small towns.  There were approximately 850 crew members on my ship and I know of five rapes, all crew on crew, occurring within an 18 month period with no prosecutions.  Would you take your family on vacation to this small town if you were aware of these statistics?  I doubt you would.  Cruise lines don’t want you to know this.  The cruise industry spends millions of dollars to lobby against regulations.  In the U.S there are now bills before the House and Senate that will do just that…begin to regulate the cruise industry.  However, please remember this only applies to U.S. citizens.  

I am beginning to post my whole story at and a shorter version of my story appears at    My web site is a work in progress; it is very difficult to write each chapter. Before you place yourself in harms way, I suggest you take a look at these web sites and educate yourself before ever stepping foot on board a cruise ship. I do not want what happened to me to happen to you.