A former crew member aboard Holland America's MS Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ship was sentenced by a Broward County Florida Federal Judge to 30 years in a federal prison this week for raping and then attempting to kill a female passenger.
Ketut Pujayasa, 29 admitted to choking, beating and raping the passenger -- before attempting to throw her overboard from her cabin's balcony while the ship was in open sea. His victim survived and faced him in Federal Court in Broward County, Florida just a few miles from Port Everglades where the cruise departed from.
Mr. Pujayasa gained access to the victim's cabin by using a master key. He then waited for her on her balcony. As a result of the attack, the woman suffered serious injuries including fractures to her spine, skull and face. Thankfully, the attack was interrupted by fellow passengers. Mr. Pujayasa escaped from the cabin by jumping from the balcony and subsequently confessed the crimes to the FBI.
Passenger rapes continue to plague cruise ships. In response, in 2010 Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act -- mandating that cruise lines initiate policies to prevent and protect passengers from rape. The bill mandates that all serious crimes involving U.S. citizens be reported to the FBI as well as the publication of crime statistics on a website available to the public.
Surprisingly, the law requires only crimes "that are no longer under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation" be publicized. Some studies show that the FBI only investigates about 10 percent of reported cruise ship crime. As a cruise ship passenger lawyer, I find these results to be very misleading. To see the latest cruise ship crime statistics click here.
It is important to protect yourself and your family on your next cruise. According to FBI Special Agent David Hearn: "Watch what you are doing and keep your wits about you. It seems like an enclosed environment. That gives people a false sense of security. You should have fun, but act responsibly and know what your kids are doing at all times. And if you see suspicious activity or a crime has occurred, contact the ship's personnel immediately."