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A cruise ship worker on board Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam has confessed to raping a passenger and attempting to throw her overboard on Valentine’s Day.

Ketut Pujayasa, 28, who had been employed by the line since 2012, told FBI agents he went into her stateroom in the middle of the night.  He then raped, beat and strangled her before trying to throw her off the balcony, just off the coast of Honduras,  the Courier Mail reported today.

The ship was on a seven-day Western Caribbean charter cruise that departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 9 February.

He was arrested by FBI agents when the ship returned to Florida.

The arresting officer wrote in his report that the Indonesian citizen worked in room service and that the attack was an act of revenge as the victim had insulted him and his family.

Pujayasa said he was delivering the woman breakfast. He knocked three times before she finally responded. He claimed he heard the woman say, “wait a minute, son of a b*#ch.”

He said the comment was not only offensive to him but also to his parents.

That evening he returned to her room but it was empty. He then walked to the Lido deck in an attempt to locate the passenger and “punch her in the face for insulting him that morning.”

When he realized the deck was too crowded, he decided to return to the woman’s cabin and use a company-issued master key to get in.

He hid on the balcony and fell asleep on the chair. Once the woman returned he entered her room and began choking and punching her, the newspaper reported.

He then struck her with a laptop computer and curling iron and used a phone cord to silence her screams.

Unable to silence her, Pujayasa then tried to cover it up by attempting to throw her overboard.

The 31-year-old woman remained unidentified, however, according to court records she lost consciousness at least once during the assault and believed her attacker was trying to kill her.

Pujayasa was arrested on charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual abuse.

Holland America said in a statement that the woman was cared for and stabilised in the ship’s hospital. She disembarked the ship in Roaten, Honduras and was transferred to the United States.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and her family during this difficult time,” the statement said.

“While no words can adequately express our shock at this event, this has shaken the entire Holland America family to our very core.

“We continue to work closely with authorities to understand how this incident occurred and what additional actions we can take to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

“Holland America Line performs careful screening of all our employees.

“We require police clearance from the country of origin for nearly all crew members before they can work on board our ships, as was done for the former crew member involved here.

“In addition, all crew members undergo rigorous visa requirements for the routes they will be sailing.”

Holland America added that Ketut had been hired two years ago after a careful screening that included a clean history check.

“At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests is our highest priority, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line.

“To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company’s 140-year history.”