Cruise ships are routinely used by both passengers and crew members to smuggle drugs. Two recent newspaper articles from the Royal Gazette in Bermuda point this out.
Today, the newspaper reports that a passenger aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn was sentenced to seven years in prison in Bermuda for smuggling 5,048 grams of marijuana, with a street value of $252,000.
U.S. passenger Anthony Issac brought the drugs to the Island in a suitcase aboard the NCL cruise ship. A "friend" of his paid him $10,000 to go on vacation and to drop the suitcase off in Bermuda. The NCL passenger, a 34 year-old truck driver from the Bronx, apologized to the court in Bermuda. He explained that he smuggled the reefer because he was "experiencing financial problems and thought the money would help."
A couple of months ago, the Royal Gazette reported that a NCL cruise ship employee was jailed for attempting to import more than $12,000 worth of cannabis into Bermuda. Crew member, Elroy Bent Brackman from Columbia, was offered $500 to import the drug while working aboard NCL cruise ship Norwegian Dawn. He had been caught smoking weed in his cabin, which led to a search.
Like the NCL passenger, the crew member claims that he given $500 in New York if he would bring smuggle the marijuana on the cruise ship. The court in Bermuda sentenced him to two-and-a-half years' in jail.
In November 2006, another NCL crew member Teeteta Lereria was sentenced to five years after trying to smuggle cannabis and heroin valued at more than $311,000 into Bermuda. She was employed as a cleaner aboard NCL's Norwegian Spirit.
Many of the crew members, particularly "cleaners" who do not earn tips, earn as little as $535 a month. Working as much as 85 hours a week, their wages turn out to be less than $1.60 an hour. Whereas this does not justify criminal conduct, low wage employees are susceptible to being used as drug mules.
The presence of drugs on cruise ships, particularly smuggled by the crew, raises a concern of violence between crew members. This problem may also be behind the "disappearance" of crew members over the years - stories which have largely been ignored by the U.s. media.
A search of the Royal Gazette's archives reveals that many passengers have also been arrested or fined for bringing marijuana into Bermuda.
October 26, 2009 Update:
The Bermuda Royal Gazette reports today that another NCL passenger was busted for pot. This time it was aboard NCL's cruise ship, Norwegian Majesty. A Bermuda Customs sniffer dog found 12 joints of marijuana during a search of the cruise ship, while the ship was in port in St. George's.
The cruise passenger is an American, Frank Brazinski from Pennsylvania. The joints were discovered in the passenger's luggage inside his cabin. Not sure I understand how this resulted in a charge of importing drugs into Bermuda. The passenger pled guilty.