Cruise Cocaine Bust in Fort Lauderdale

Cocaine Cruise News outlets are reporting that a cruise passenger sailing to Port Everglades from the Bahamas was arrested after the U.S. Customs & Border Protection discovered 2.4 pounds of cocaine in the man's luggage and additional drugs taped to his ankles. 

LOCAL 10 News and Breaking 911 report that "Customs officers noticed the man nervously moving items in his luggage as he was being questioned, so they inspected the luggage and found two packages of cocaine inside."

The articles say that the passenger was arriving on a "cruise ferry" from the Bahamas on August 13th.

The Customs and Border Protection, like many Federal agencies, did not disclose the name of the cruise company in question. 

Anyone know what cruise ferry was sailing from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale on August 13th? Leave a comment.

Photo Credit:  U.S. Customs & Border Protection

 

 

 

 

Crew Member Allegedly Rapes Passenger on Costa Diadema

Costa Employee Marc Gregor GuinucudAn Italian newspaper reports today that a Costa crew member is accused of raping a young passenger aboard the Costa Diadema while the cruise ship was docked in Naples.

The newspaper says that a Costa bartender allegedly followed an 18 year-old French woman into her cabin and raped her brutally. 

The accused rapist is identified as 30 year-old Costa employee Mark Guinucud from Manila, Philippines.

Crew member Guinucud was supposed to fly back to the Philippines, but an Italian prosecutor reportedly blocked him from flying. The crew member was arrested and taken into police custody when the cruise ship arrived in the port of La Spezia.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday. Guinucud at this time is held in the prison of La Spezia.

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Photo Credit: Facebook

New Crime Warnings for the Bahamas

"New Crime Warnings - Brits, Canadians Put Citizens on Alert" read the headlines of the Nassau Guardian yesterday. 

The newspaper reports that the governments of Britain and Canada issued advisories to their citizens about the rising armed crimes in New Providence and Grand Bahama. 

Britain updated its travel advisory to state that: "There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Nassau Port bahamasGrand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the British High Commission has increased."

Canada's warnings state that Canadians "should exercise a high degree of caution.  Crime occurs mainly in Nassau and Freeport. There has been an increase in armed robberies targeting tourists in Nassau. Incidents take place in populated and isolated areas, and even in daylight hours high rates of crime, especially in Nassau."

Canada warns travelers to stay alert to your surroundings at all times, even in areas normally considered safe. Avoid deserted beaches and do not walk alone, particularly after dark. Sexual assaults are on the rise in Nassau . . . Foreigners have reportedly been sexually assaulted by water sports rental operators." 

Canada issued a warning about the Bahamas after a young tourist was repeatedly stabbed during a robbery.

The newspaper also reports that the United States Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) on Thursday tweeted, “When a jet skier starts shooting at the beach, do you reconsider The Bahamas?”

Most tourists from Britain, Canada and the U.S. arriving in Nassau via cruise ship do not realize that the port is much more dangerous than their home countries.

Last year we named the Bahamas as the number 1 most dangerous cruise destination in the world. Nassau's tourism business is in a precarious position with murders and crime increasing dramatically and Cuba about to open to U.S. tourists.

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Photo Credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons / Wikipedia

Vision of the Seas Rescues Migrants

Several crew members from the Vision of the Seas notified me that earlier this morning the cruise ship was involved in the rescue of 45 or 46 migrants.

The crew of the Vision provided food and water to all of the migrants.  It then transported the migrants on a tender boat to a nearby Greek island, after which the Vision continued on to its port of call in Kusadasi, Turkey.

The crew members wish to remain anonymous.

Congratulations to the effort by the Vision crew!

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Vision of Seas Migrant Rescue

Celebrity Cancels More Stops in Istanbul

Celebrity Cruises canceled a stop in Istanbul earlier this week because of concerns with terrorism.  We were the first to report on the cancellation involving the Equinox.

Today, Celebrity canceled more port stops, announcing that the Reflection will not stay in Istanbul on August 31st and will depart earlier in the day. Celebrity will also skip the Reflection's port call in Istanbul on September 4th & 5th and will instead call on Athens. 

Cruise IstanbulOn August 19th Costa canceled all port stops in Istanbul for the remainder of the year.

Costa and other cruise lines are under pressure not to sail more passengers into danger like Costa  recklessly did when it cruised to Tunisia in March, resulting in passengers being slaughtered. I called for the security chiefs to be sacked

There are hundreds of cruises scheduled for Istanbul this year. Expect more cancelations

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Photo Credit: rehbergundemi.com

Stop the Grind - Boycott Cruise Lines that Cruise to Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands Whale SlaughterEuropean cruise lines AIDA, Hapag-Lloyd, and P & O have already decided to avoid the Faroe Islands because of the cruel and gruesome slaughter of pilot whales (Grindadrap). Kudos to them. Disney is the only U.S. based cruise line avoiding the Faroes. Double Kudos to the Magical Cruise Company for doing the right thing. 

But Royal Caribbean and Royal Caribbean-owned Azamara, NCL and Oceania & Regent Seven Seas (both owned by NCL), Silversea Cruises, Windstar, and HAL & Princess (both owned by Carnival) are still sailing to the Faroes. I doubt that people would cruise on these companies' cruise ships to the Faroe islands if they knew about this slaughter. 

Yesterday the Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson mentioned this blog is his commentary "STOP THE VOYAGES TO HELL - Whale Friendly Tourists are not Welcome in the Danish Faroe Islands." Captain Watson explains that the Faroes recently passed a law that requires tourists to report pods of whales so that the country can slaughter them. He writes that:

"One of the pods of Pilot Whales exterminated by the Faroese whalers earlier this summer was spotted and reported by a tourist because the "special" new Grind Laws of the Faroe Islands makes it a criminal offense for anybody to not report a pod of whales to the whalers.

So when tourists have been recruited into being accessories to the slaughter, it is time to discourage more tourists from being recruited." 

It's time to act. If you are disturbed by this evil spectacle, do something about it.  Call your travel agent. Complain to the cruise lines that support the Faroe Islands and which profit from excursions to this location. Refuse to cruise on ships that cruise there. Don't give your money to cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival brands that sail there. 

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Photo Credit: campaign-whale.org  Be sure to watch the short video below:

State of the Cruise Industry: Dangling Lifeboats, Missing People, Molested Teens, Drowned Guests & Dead Whales

I have always wondered how the public relations people at the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) manage to show up at work. 

Their sole purpose is to spin the news and try to make the cruise lines look good.

It seems, to me, that's a hard thing to do.

In just the last ten days, a lifeboat on a Costa cruise ship broke free and was left dangling from the side of the Costa Mediterranea. Three people went overboard within four days from the Cunard QM2, the MSC Magnifica, and the Carnival Glory, all cruise ships without automatic man overboard systems. A Costa Cruise Lifeboatstateroom attendant molested a teen on the Carnival Valor. A well respected maritime accident investigation board roundly criticized Princess Cruises, after the needless death of a young Chinese woman, for taking no precautions other than posting a cavalier swim-at-your-own-risk sign by a lifeguard-less swimming pool on the Sapphire Princess. Princess didn't learn a thing from that death and a 8 year-old child nearly drown on the same ship last week. The girl sustained serious brain damage and is on a ventilator. 

Five deadly or life-threatening events in just ten days! Where is the industry's trade organization, CLIA, trying to put a happy face on the deaths and injuries?

CLIA is reeling from the quick exit of its new CEO, former admiral Thomas Ostebo, who used the words "frightening" and "shocking" to describe his one month experience at CLIA. No one at CLIA bothers to even try and spin these recent events. CLIA doesn't even try to convince anyone anymore that the "safety & security of its passengers" is truly its highest priority.

The priority of the greedy cruise executives seems to be lining their pockets with money while cutting crew benefits, stealing increased gratuities advertised for the crew, and nickeling and diming the passengers to death. 

So what's next for the cruise industry?  Dead whales. 

There is a widespread and well organized movement to boycott the Faroe Islands for its barbaric and heart-wrenching slaughter of pilot whales. Trouble is that most cruise lines tout the Faroes as a key port of call for their cruise ships. But an international coalition of mammal lovers, environmentalists and decent-hearted, concerned citizens, organized by non-profits and the powerful and media savvy Sea Shepherd organization, is making a change. Disney abandoned its plans to go there and three other lines, all European companies, announced that they will no longer support the Faroes in response to social media campaigns geared toward educating the public about the despicable whale slaughter.

But U.S. based cruise lines are still sailing there regularly. Royal Caribbean, Azamara, NCL, Oceania, Grindstopand Carnival owned HAL and Princess all still plan on calling on the Faroe Islands. I have written about the deadly and disgusting practice here. The Faroe locals slit the throats of the little whales and rip the babies from their mothers. It's up close and personal terror. Don't read the article if you are squeamish. 

Disney was smart enough to get out of the way of the oncoming media blitz. It will maintain its reputation because of its awareness, just like it wisely assigned life guards to its pools and installed automatic man overboard systems on its ships. But the Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans and NCLs are too CEO-egocentric and arrogant to figure out a way to avoid the train of public opinion coming their way.

CLIA, meanwhile, is clueless. It doesn't know what to say when a lifeboat breaks a cable or a passenger drowns in a pool with no lifeguard. It is a heartless and passionless group of former federal employee hacks trying to keep their jobs. 

I don't blame the CLIA 9 to 5'ers for staying home, hiding with the covers over their heads.

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Photo creit: Top - kolektiv; bottom - Sea Shepherd.

Costa Excursion Boat Mishap

Italian newspaper L'Unione Sarda reports what it is calling an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. 

Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship.  

The news article says:

"There was a technical problem , , ,  the boat came off as it was being lowered into the sea to carry passengers to the fjord of Kotor, in Montenegro. There is a dock and it was necessary to use the boats. But no one was on board and no one was hurt, said Costa Crociere."

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There have been other serious lifeboat accidents in the last several years. In October 2014, a "rescue boat" on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped. One crew member was killed. In Ju;y 2015, two crew members were seriously injured when they were raising a rescue boat. It fell from deck 6 of the Pride of America to the water. In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

Photo Credit: Facebook (unknown photographer) 

Costa Mediterranea

Princess Cruises Criticized After Passenger Drowned

A year ago, I wrote about a passenger drowning on the Princess Sapphire Princess. The passenger's death is just one of many mishaps where cruise passengers were killed or seriously injured in a lifeguard-less swimming pool on a Carnival, Disney, NCL, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Princess responded to our request for a comment at the time. After the obligatory "our thoughts and prayers are with our guest's family," the cruise line refused to comment except to say that "the incident is under investigation."

Well, the investigation is over.  The UK's Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) concluded that Sapphire Princessthe cruise line's use of a warning sign (stating that lifeguards are not on duty & persons using the pools do so at their own risk) was inadequate to reasonably safeguard its guests. 

The drowning occurred in the Neptune pool on deck 14 forward. The MAIB noted that the swimming pool was not supervised. The medical team, once it finally arrived, did a good job but was unreasonably delayed. Crew members who first responded were not trained in CPR. The victim was discovered by other passengers who were unfamiliar with CPR. The crew member (a Serbian) involved in calling 911 for emergency medical attention could not communicate with the crew member (an Asian) who answered the call due to a language barrier.

Princess had not performed a a risk assessment relating to hazards involved in the use of swimming pools. Princess also failed to assign designated attendants to the pool and failed to monitor the pool via CCTV.

The regulations on safety in swimming pools ashore "strongly indicates that constant poolside supervision provides the best assurance of pool users’ safety." However, it also recognizes that a risk assessment may determine circumstances where a safe swimming environment can be delivered without constant poolside supervision, which Princess did not conduct. The guidance specifically recommends constant poolside supervision with deeper polls and where food and drink are available to pool users, both of which applied to the Neptune Pool on the cruise ship.

Princess also failed to train their hotel staff in medical first-aid techniques or require such training prior to being hired.

The MAIB stated that "the lack of dedicated pool attendants potentially delayed the response to the incident in respect of raising an alarm and administering appropriate medical treatment. The monitoring of CCTV coverage of the area might have prompted an earlier response and would have given post-incident information."

The MAIB said, simply, that the "use of a ship’s swimming pools is a significant part of a holiday experience, and a passenger’s awareness of any attendant risk is likely to be lower . . . "

The report also stressed that "with no designated attendants at the vessel’s pools, it was left to other pool Cruise Shipping Poolusers and bystanders to recognize that (the victim) was in need of urgent assistance and to raise an alarm . . . had there been a dedicated pool attendant monitoring the passengers in the pool, the victim’s situation could have been identified at the earliest possible opportunity."

The MAIB concluded that 'the staffing of pool areas with personnel who are suitably trained in medical first-aid would allow a more appropriate response to medical emergencies." 

The MAIB mentioned two further swimming pool accidents involving passengers on board Princess cruise ships - a drowning on the Diamond Princess on June 23, 2015, and a near-drowning on the Sapphire Princess on  August 5, 2015 which you can read about here. We are unfamiliar with the June 23, 2015 incident (does anyone have info?)

It appears that as of this late date, despite multiple incidents, Princess has still not even conducted a risk assessment for its pools nor has it assigned lifeguards or monitors to this dangerous location.  

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Photo Credit: Top - gov.uk MAIB; bottom - Pro Publica

Celebrity Equinox Cancels Stop In Istanbul

Today I received a message from a passenger aboard the Celebrity Equinox that the Equinox was skipping the port of Istanbul because of the threat of terrorism.

Gabriele Giambrone commented that "Celebrity Equinox canceled our planned stop in Istanbul tomorrow due to terrorist fears and high security alerts. We will be having a day at sea instead."

He states on his Facebook page that "this is an announcement from your Captain: due to high security Celebrity Equinox risks and an increased risk of terrorist attacks, we won't be going to Istanbul tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your holiday."

The Wall Street Journal recently mentioned "a spate of attacks across Turkey that targeted security forces and a U.S. consulate killed six people." 

"A recent surge in violence on Turkish soil has largely been blamed on the domestic conflict with Kurdish separatist group PKK, not Islamic State . . . Turkey is now battling a chaotic mix of the PKK, Marxist militants and Islamic State while dealing with a huge influx of Syrian refugees." 

Costa recently canceled all stops in Turkey.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have a Global Security Team headed by former FBI senior official Gary Bald. Foreign port safety assessment is a function of every cruise line. It's good to see cruise lines taking affirmative steps to keep passengers and crew members safe, rather than Costa and MSC sailing their guests blindly into a danger spot like Tunis earlier this year. 

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Photo Credit: Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Man Overboard from Carnival Glory

Carnival Glory Overboard PassengerThere is a report of a "man overboard" this afternoon from the Carnival Glory cruise ship. 

A reader from Honduras listening to channel 16 heard the report and said that the Honduran Navy and locals were searching for a person overboard at certain coordinates in Honduran waters.

A person also notified me on my Facebook page.

Richard Elston has a friend on board the Glory and tells me that a passenger went overboard from the cruise ship. 

This is the third person overboard from a cruise ship in four days. A crew member from Chile went overboard from the Queen Mary 2 over the weekend.  A 23 year old passenger went overboard from the MSC Magnifica this morning. 

This is the 19th person going overboard so far this year.

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AIS Credit: Richard Elston  

A college student disappeared from the Carnival Glory last March.

Update:  I received a message from a reader who indicated that her aunt had gone overboard. She was reportedly notified by the Honduran ambassador that her aunt's body was located.

August 24, 2015 Update: Exclusive: Family Appalled By Carnival’s Response To Woman Overboard.

Nassau, Bahamas - the "Wild, Wild West"

I have written several dozen articles in the last several years about the high crime rate in Nassau.  The murder rate in the Bahamas is well over 30 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. murder rate of around 4.5 per 100,000. I have published articles about cruise passengers being raped and robbed ashore (29 cruise passengers were robbed in just two incidents). Cruise passengers on excursions have been targeted. 

The Nassau Guardian wrote an article after interviewing me a couple of years ago: U.S. Attorney Raises Concern over Crime - Bahamas "One Gunshot Away" from Cruise Line Exit. The response by the locals was mostly denial and to plaster me with hate e-mails. Since then, crime has steadily Crime Nassau Bahamasincreased. 

There is no doubt that Nassau is plagued by runaway crime (this year the number of murders will reach a record high). There are far more crime warnings issued for by the U.S. State Department for the Bahamas than any other country in the world. The unemployment rate for young men is record high and rising. Nassau is filled with guns. The police are ineffective. The legal system is broken.

Many cruise passenger stay on the cruise ships when they reach Nassau.   

Make no doubt about it. Tourists and cruise visitors to Nassau need to be warned, it's dangerous in the Bahamas.

Today, I read an article in the Tribune newspaper: American Businessman Considers Leaving The Bahamas After Business Is Robbed. Here's what the victim told the Tribune:

"This place has become the Wild, Wild West . . . It’s like having a group of people arguing over how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The boat’s going down with everybody on it. And unfortunately here we see a deterioration of the quality of life . . .

We have a higher per capita murder rate than New York City does, than a lot of major cities in the US do. And nobody seems to be getting it."

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Woman Missing From MSC Magnifica

MSC Magnifica This morning I was contacted by a person aboard the MSC Magnifica who informed me that a passenger went overboard from the cruise ship last night. 

The Magnifica was sailing to Izmir, Turkey when the woman disappeared overboard. The Greek Coast Guard was notified at some point but it has been unsuccessful searching for the cruise passenger. 

The person identified the woman as Chinese. 

This is the second person reported overboard overboard from a cruise ship in the last several days. 

On August 15, 2015, a crew member disappeared from the Queen Mary 2.

This is the 18th passenger or crew member who has gone overboard from a cruise ship so far this year

Unfortunately, very few cruise ships have automatic man overboard systems which are designed to send a signal to the bridge as soon as a person goes over the rail. 

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Photo Credit:  Bracodbk licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 via Wikipedia

Allegation: Carnival Crew Member Sexually Assaulted Boy on Valor

WFTV reports that a crew member on a Carnival cruise ship allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage boy last Friday.

The news station says that Carnival announced the incident, although it is less than clear when or how the cruise line made the statement. 

The incident allegedly occurred on board the Carnival Valor, which is based in Port Canaveral.

Yovany Sauzo-BatizThe news article reports that the cruise line notified the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI of the incident. Here's how WFTV described the case, based on the Sheriff's office.

"Yovany Sauzo-Batiz, 46, of Honduras, was working on the Carnival Valor as a stateroom steward Friday when he tried to start a conversation with a teenage passenger in a sauna. The victim then moved to a shower area to avoid the suspect when the alleged sexual conduct occurred. Immediately following the incident, the victim identified the crewmember to his father, who detained him with the assistance of other passengers until ship security arrived.”

Sauzo-Batiz was charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation.

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Photo Credit:Brevard Sheriff's Office via WFTV

Cunard Crew Member Lost at Sea

A crew member reportedly disappeared from the Queen Mary II as the cruise ship was in transit across the Atlantic Ocean.

A person on the cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous contacted me this morning to report that a crew member went overboard early this morning. The crew member apparently was not seen when he went overboard and the ship does not have an automatic man overboard system.  The cruise ship turned around to search for the man who went overboard many hours ago. The captain Kevin Oprey announced the overboard incident to the passengers.

The weather is bad with reports of fog as the search continues. The QM2 is sailing between Southampton and Halifax. 

The crew member is reportedly a male chef from Chile.

17 people have gone overboard from cruise ships so far this year

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Photo Credit: Christian Bischof licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 via Wikipedia

Queen Mary 2

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