It is the first time that a major cruise company has disclosed the frequency of alleged sex crimes on board ship. Concern has been growing over recent months that the ships, which often operate in international waters, lie beyond the scope of US law enforcement.
Carnival, the world's biggest cruise operator, made the revelation in a Miami court on Tuesday. A former female crew member is suing the company, alleging she was raped and sodomised by an officer on the Imagination last August. The accused man, an Italian, was sacked and escorted to a flight home after the woman came forward.
Cruise companies have come under more scrutiny since the mysterious disappearance of a woman from Virginia while on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship early last year. She still has not been found and family members are suing Royal Caribbean for allegedly impeding the investigation into her disappearance.