What Happens When a Crime Is Committed on a Cruise Ship?

By Michael Ferguson

When a crime is committed on a cruise ship, the event can be particularly difficult to deal with when compared to crime occurring in other public places. Cruise ships are typically out at sea for extended periods of time and far away from land, making it difficult for law enforcement to intervene. Responses to such crimes must be handled differently than in an on-shore setting.

Often, cruise ships have their own security personnel who are trained to handle onboard criminal activity. Depending on the severity of the crime and possible suspects, they may have the authority to detain individuals and investigate further.

If a crime transpires that is considered more serious or involves international jurisdiction, local authorities may be called upon. In this case, the cruise ship itself would report the incident to the FBI or Coast Guard; if they cannot respond immediately, they will likely coordinate with local law enforcement when they reach port.

In any situation where a crime occurs on a cruise ship, safety comes first for passengers and crew members onboard. The priority is always to ensure that individuals are not further endangered by any criminal activity occurring during their voyage. Cruise lines should always take swift action in responding to any reported incidents so that people’s safety is not compromised in any way; this may involve taking steps such as detaining suspects or informing authorities about potential threats.

Cruise ships are typically equipped with CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment that can aid in investigations into criminal activity onboard vessels. This technology can help identify suspects involved in criminal behavior as well as provide additional evidence which can lead to successful prosecutions.


When a crime is committed on a cruise ship, it is important for all parties involved – both passengers and crew – that swift action is taken by the vessel’s security personnel as well as local law enforcement, if necessary. Surveillance equipment onboard may also help with investigations into such incidents so that appropriate measures can be taken in order to ensure everyone’s safety.