No Arrest After Cruise Passenger with Service Dog is Attacked Aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas

The popular online community Cruise Critic reports today on a disturbing incident where a 59-year-old passenger attacked another passenger who had a service dog with him aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas on December 20th. 

The article is based primarily on comments by Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl" who posted:

"My heart goes out to our new found friend and his service dog Freedom. He was viciously attacked late at nite while getting a pizza in the Solarium. He was beaten because a man could not respect service dogs and felt Freedom should not be on board." (The photo to the right is not of Freedom).

Service Dog - Disabled - Cruise ShipAlthough Royal Caribbean confirmed the incident occurred, the cruise line disembarked the passenger in Antigua rather than detaining him to be arrested by the FBI when the cruise ship returned to port in Fort Lauderdale.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Critic that the attacker was disembarked for being in violation of the line's "guest conduct policy."  

Royal Caribbean claims that it reported the assault and battery to local law enforcement in Antigua "as well as to the Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida." Remarkably, there is no mention of a report to the FBI which has jurisdiction over crimes on the high seas involving U.S. citizens. The FBI can make an arrest where the victim and/or the assailant is a U.S. citizen. The failure of the cruise line to report the incident to the FBI violates the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

A spokesperson for cruise line said "ship crew would have detained the man had a law enforcement agency asked them to hold him, but no such request was received."  This statement begs the question why the FBI was not notified.

Royal Caribbean also characterized the victim as sustaining only "minor injuries and was treated in the ship's medical facility."  But according to Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl," the man was transferred to a Fort Lauderdale hospital at the conclusion of the sailing to be checked for broken ribs and possible internal injuries.

Unfortunately, this is often the way that cruise lines handle shipboard crimes. If the incident had occurred say at the Dadeland Mall here in Miami, the local police would certainly make an arrest and the case would be prosecuted. But on the high seas, the cruise lines just dump the criminal off at the next port and wash their hands of the situation. Often they refuse to notify the FBI. Prosecutions are then virtually impossible.

 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean - a service dog is defined by Royal Caribbean as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability."

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Charles mathias - December 27, 2012 7:14 PM

Several years ago while sunning on the beach in St. Martin, we saw a cute little mixed breed dog playing on the beach and in the water. Later that night (on a Princess ship) getting off the elevator in the atrium was the same little dog now wearing a green "service dog" coat. Iam not kidding nor making light of service dogs. So sorry for the man and dog on the RCL ship.

Tri Mawarni Larasati - December 28, 2012 1:19 AM

I ask sorry with him/her,caused I dont know that he's A disabled passenger and ...I'm so sorry what happened

Madeline - December 30, 2012 2:11 AM

In response to the comment about the service dog previously seen playing on the beach, this poster seems to be very confused about what a service dog is. Service dogs aren't prisoners. They aren't machines. They are living, breathing animals with needs and rights.

Much like human beings who have jobs but don't do them 24/7, service dogs have every right to daily R&R. If I saw you playing on the beach and later saw you in a police officer's uniform, is it reasonable for me to conclude that you are not a real police officer?

A service dog is still a dog and gets to "be a dog" sometimes. Everyone deserves to have down time and play and have fun, and this definitely includes dogs!

Charles mathias - December 31, 2012 5:59 PM

Madeline: If you will re-read my comment you will notice I said "I am not making light of service dogs" I have (3) dogs myself and (11) feral cats. I also noticed that this family of four did not seem to have any problems on the beach or dancing in the Disco. I am thinking of having green jackets made for my dogs. They are a great service to me and would enjoy the cruise.

reclusivepeter - January 3, 2013 2:26 AM

I am Freedoms handler. There are three types of service dogs, Task Specific, Companion Service animals, both for the handler as well as a third, Therapy animal for the help of others. Also it should be known, the green vest means 'in traning' and says so, whereas a red vest means the animal has completed the necesary trainmg and is entitled to the red vest that says SERVICE DOG. Some situations require paperwork but you can tell. The test is in the animals behavior when working. Drop the leash and the dog should lay or sit next to the handler. I am Blessed to have Freedom. Just no one to take the case.

Martina - January 3, 2013 10:29 PM

Charles, do you not realize that some service dogs are for hearing impaired individuals or those with a seizure disorder, neither of which would have prevented the handler or their family from enjoying the beach or being in dancing in the club. Use of a service dog isn't limited to the visually impaired or the non ambulatory.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's okay for people to claim their 'pet' is a service dog so they don't have to board him/her or make care arrangements.

But at the same time, I don't think you understand or appreciate that for some people, there is a legitimate need for service dogs that is not readily apparent to you.

Tim Boyce - February 17, 2013 8:36 PM

I was on the cruise and was with Peter and Freedom during the attack on him. It was the most inhuman thing I have ever witnessed. We were sitting at the table when a supposed man came up and started chocking Peter. threw him to the floor and started beating his head on the floor and kicking him in the ribs. Blood was everywhere. They took Peter to the shipps medical center and stiched his head. I was unable to help Peter due too parkinsons, artery replacement,hearttransplant and prostate cancer. This man had to have no brains to do sometning like this to another human.

Terry Byrne - March 25, 2013 12:52 PM

Sorry for what happened to you an Freedom, Pete. I am a veteran with PTSD, and travel with my PTSD service dog, Harley. We have gotten looks, the occasional comment or two, but as of yet no aggressive behavior from 'haters'. Which is a good thing for the 'haters', as Harley is a Doberman, and trained not only to respond to me in the event of an anxiety attack, but is also trained in Personal Protection to alleviate my nerves proactively. That jerk would have gotten his butt bit up good. Maybe Harley and I will run into him some day... I hate to admit it, but I think I'd kind of like that.

KS - April 21, 2013 11:31 AM

Just finished 4 day horrible Majesty of the Seas "dog" experience. No green or red vests for 2 pampered shizues (sp?) that pooped on carpets, floors, running track or anywhere but the dog box. Earlier when the dogs were climbing all over the furniture, I asked the owners if they were service dogs & they said not really but their doctor wrote a letter to RCC stating they needed them for "emotional support." They laughed & said anyone can get permission for their dogs on RCC. Birthday cruise for one of the mutts that was wearing a new diamond (yes, real!!!)necklace.

I complained to guest services & Crown & Anchor rep (others did also). No one seemed to care. Even showed them poop that was all over.

Sailed with RCC 12 times--10 on Majesty. Probably last time. Have seen true behaved service dogs before. No problem, but no excuse for this. Fecal matter on the carpet, floor & furniture is a definate health hazard!!

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