While prostitution is legal, but regulated, in places such as Nevada, New Zealand, and Switzerland, prostitution in the majority of cities and countries around the world is illegal. It doesn’t matter whether you are on land or at sea, prostitution is a crime that is punishable by up five years in jail, stiff fines, and more. Prostitution on cruise ships is no different from prostitution in any other public place. The FBI oversees all crimes at sea, so if the solicitor and the solicitee are caught, the punishment is still severe.
Prostitution on cruise ships is something that you won’t read about too much in the media. What you will read about are sexual crimes committed by passengers and crewmembers ranging from simple sexual assault such as fondling or flashing to reprehensible sexual attacks such as rape. It is estimated that 17.6 sexual crimes occur per 100,000 passengers. However, according to industry professionals and based on statistical information, this figure is considered low compared to statistics for sexual crimes committed in most vacation cities, on college campuses or any densely packed vacation setting.
Prostitution on cruise ships is not rampant, but on some cruise lines, you will find other forms of “companionship for pay” such as escorts or rather, “Gentlemen Hosts” On some of the most luxurious cruise lines in the world, Gentlemen Hosts are available for the older female passenger as in many cases the number of female passengers is considerably higher the number of male passengers.
Gentlemen Hosts are typically retired from their careers in professional fields such as law, education, and medicine and they are required to attend all onboard social functions, and dinners. They dine, they dance the rumba or the waltz, to name a few, and they mingle with the female guests. Gentlemen Hosts are also required to keep things casual, to never dance with the same partner twice, and they must always wear dinner jackets and name tags so that passengers can identify them.
The profile of a typical Gentlemen Host is an attractive single male aged 40-70, outgoing, professional, and confident. This may seem like a ‘cake’ job, but the screening process is tough and lengthy, and the requirements are strict. In return for their “services” Gentlemen Hosts receive free accommodations, all meals, a drinks and laundry allowance, paid shore excursions, and air fare. In some cases, the host will have to pay a small daily fee to the cruise line, typically on premium cruise lines, in the amount of $20 or so per day.
The following cruise lines feature Gentlemen Hosts (or a Gentlemen Host program) for female passengers: American West Steamboat Company, Crystal Cruises, Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Fred Olsen Cruises, Holland America Line, NYK Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Silversea Cruises.
As stated earlier, prostitution on cruise ships is rarely an issue when a passenger or otherwise summons security. In fact, and according to Carnival Cruise Lines Senior Cruise Director, John Heald, (as reported by CruiseMates Editor Paul Motter), “by far the most common reason security is ever called out by non-involved passengers is domestic disputes.” These types of encounters often lead to accusations of “sexual battery” or abuse after the fact.