Hundreds Of Passengers Have Said They Were Sexually Assaulted On Cruise Ships. Their Stories Highlight Years Of Lax Security, Critics Say.

The Carnival Miracle cast off from Cozumel, a picturesque island off the coast of Mexico, slowly making its way across the Caribbean Sea back to Tampa, Florida. It was the first Saturday of December 2018, and clouds dotted the sky, but the day was still bright and warm — perfect conditions for a winter break. 

A 21-year-old woman was traveling with her friend and up to 2,000 other passengers on the Carnival cruise ship, a 960-foot-long, 12-story-tall ocean liner teeming with spas, bars, restaurants, and deckside pools. The eight-day trip was the young woman’s first-ever cruise.

She had enjoyed herself, spotting sea turtles off the Cayman Islands, visiting Mayan ruins in Belize, and swimming with dolphins off Cozumel — but everything would soon change. The woman, referred to as Jane Doe in court documents, spent that Saturday tanning by the pool, drinking, and hanging out with her friend and some acquaintances they had met on the cruise.

In the evening, the group went to dinner and attended a comedy show at the ship’s theater. By midnight, the party was in full flow. Doe decided to run around the cruise decks. As she ran up a stairwell, a Carnival crew member was waiting for her. According to a complaint filed in 2019, which BuzzFeed News reviewed, she claimed he then lured her into a closet and locked the door. 

“I remember being scared seeing him holding the lock, so I started asking him