The Holland America Line has a new item of interest to add to its storied history, but this one will not be featured in any company-issued brochure. The famous holiday cruise ship, which originally started off as a Dutch shipping and passenger line in 1873, made it into the news recently in a manner the company deeply wishes it had not. Ketut Pujayasa, a Holland America Line employee, was arrested for sexually assaulting a passenger early Friday morning.
Pujayasa, a citizen of Indonesia, reportedly raped, beat, and strangled an unnamed female passenger and then unsuccessfully tried to throw her overboard. The assailant has admitted that the charges leveled against him are true, and were in fact a result of his taking offense to an insult the passenger apparently hurled his way. The victim, a 31-year-old woman, managed to escape Pujayasa’s attack after being raped and got assistance from a fellow passenger.
The 28-year-old assailant told investigators after the fact that the incident began when he attempted to deliver room service to the woman, only to be cursed at for knocking in what the victim perceived as an impatient manner. The insult troubled Pujayasa so deeply that he could not get the thought of revenge off his mind throughout the rest of the day. It was then the Holland America Line employee decided to confront the woman in her room, sexually assaulting the passenger in the process.
The cruise ship, which was in the middle of a week-long trip when the assault took place, originally departed from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 9. The ship was reportedly in international territory at the time of the attack, just off the coast of Honduras. Pujayasa was immediately detained and arrested when the Holland America Line arrived back in Fort Lauderdale. While no official word has been released about the status of the victim, she is said to have been stabilized in the hospital.
The company has taken steps to rectify the situation as well as they can, releasing a statement that the Holland America Line will fully cooperate with the authorities until the matter is resolved. They also expressed their sympathies to the victim and her family, promising to provide full support to the passenger while she receives treatment. Stein Kruse, president of the Holland America Line, released a statement assuring the public that the safety of the passengers is the company’s top concern, and that this is the first such incident in their 140-year history.
These responses were absolutely essential for the company, whose proud legacy includes transporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Netherlands to North America over the years. However, the potential blowback from the incident may wind up as something of a black mark nonetheless. The Holland America Line has stated that they have very strict hiring procedures when it comes to visa requirements, and that Pujayasa had no prior criminal record upon joining the company in 2012.
More answers to Pujayasa’s fate will be revealed during his arraignment on Mar. 4. For now, the Holland America Line employee’s savage sexual assault of a passenger will continue to sit uneasily in the minds of the company, and indeed the public as a whole.
By Spencer Hendricks