(5:40 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, is the first cruise corporation to be certified by a national sexual assault prevention organization as complying with a new set of standards aimed at preventing and responding to sexual assault.

In order to receive certification, RCCL submitted its policies and procedures to a four-month audit by representatives from RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the United States' largest anti-sexual violence organization. The audit included a comprehensive analysis of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara ships, as well as a review of RCCL's policies, procedures and training.

The standards against which RCCL was judged (Cruise Line Best Practice Standards) were created specifically for the cruise industry and take into account requirements under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, as well as crime prevention and response issues specific to the cruise industry.

The review examined 11 key areas, ranging from physical ship security to crew training and victim services. Other compliance areas audited included general prevention; training of general crew, medical personnel and security staff; medical service and supply; hiring guidelines; and prospective passenger screening. RAINN examiners also interviewed crew members from all three of the Royal Caribbean brands. Certification is valid for two years.

"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our guests and crew," Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain said in a statement. "We set high standards for ourselves -- and on the most important subjects, we look to experts for guidance."

From January 1 to June 30, 2015, there have been seven allegations of rape by passengers or crew onboard ships across the three Royal Caribbean brands. Allegations are unproven and can be found to be false after investigation.

--By Dori Saltzman, Editor