Police in Belize Arrest Three NCL Crew Members for Smuggling Cocaine

Norwegian Escape7 News Belize reports that three NCL crew members were arrested in Belize for possession of two kilos of cocaine which was picked up in Roatan and taken on an unidentified NCL cruise ship to the private destination of Harvest Caye, apparently with the intention of being smuggled into the U.S.  The news stations says that:

The police have not released any official information, but 7News has learned that 3 employees of Norwegian Cruise Lines were charged with drug trafficking for allegedly being in possession of two kilos of cocaine on a cruise ship. Our information is that the 3 men are now arrested and charged, and they are at the Belize Central Prison.

Reports are that the men, 2 nationals of St. Lucia and 1 from St. Vincent, arrived on last Tuesday, on an NCL ship which made a port of call at the Harvest Caye Island getaway. The men worked on the Ship. Reports say that the two kilos may have been picked up in Roatan.

The men were arrested, and charged, and they were arraigned in Magistrate's Court. They are now at the Belize Central Prison.

Smuggling cocaine is big business on the high seas. Two years ago, five NCL crew members on the Norwegian Sun were arrested in Tampa when the cruise ship returned from Roatan where the crew members picked up the drugs. The Tampa Bay Times reported that they worked for NCL as utility workers in the Norwegian Sun's galley.

A few months later, a NCL crew member employed aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship was arrested when he attempted to smuggle cocaine aboard the ship when it was docked in Roatan.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has busted a cocaine smuggling operation where NCL crew members smuggled cocaine from Honduras to New Orleans aboard NCL's Norwegian Dawn cruise ship.

The article did not identify the NCL cruise ship involved in this latest smuggling caper, although it is believed to be the Norwegian Escape.

Costa and Princess crew members were recently arrested in cocaine smuggling schemes using cruise ships.

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June 21, 2017 Update: The newspaper in Belize identified the NCL crew members: Derson Frank, from St. Vincent; Renaldo Roberts, also from St. Vincent; and Jamal Celise of St. Lucia.

Photo credit: Arno Redenius - CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival Passenger Robbed at Port in Belize

Belize CityOn September 13, 2016, a passenger on the Carnival Magic was robbed at gunpoint at the port of Belize. We received the following information from the passenger:

"We were at the port next to the belize sign taking pictures. A vendor selling wood and jewelry was trying to sell us some of his handmade work when a male on a bicycle threw down his bike and pointed a gun at me. He then put it under his shirt when my friend turned around. My friend thought it was a joke and wasn't cooperating that's when the man pulled the gun back out racked it and pointed it at us. He told us to empty our pockets. My friend gave him 15$ all he had left and I gave him 25$ he then saw my phone and told me to give it to him. I delayed giving to him as I was thinking about my options. After a few moments I decided it wasn't worth it and gave it to him. He then started yelling at my friend to give him his wallet which he did not have. The man then asked where it was my friend replied in my room. Finally the male said don't make this a big deal and got back on his bike and rolled away. I preceded to run to the first police officer I could find and let them know what happened. The police had several officer driving around in cars and motorcycles trying to find the assailant. They told us it was the 1st time in 2 years this happened in or by the port. They could not locate him and took us to the police station where we gave statements and made reports. 2 hrs later they took us back to the port where we went back on the ship and made report to carnival. They said it never happens. Made report to guest services then wrote statement to security and told me to call corporate office when I get off ship. Called the office they did not seem to care much and I told them why do they go to unsafe ports their reply was this never happens. To future cruisers I would suggest to not get off on this port."

Carnival contacted the passenger after the cruise, stating that it is going to increase awareness with cruise guests and also increase police and security at that port.

Last March, cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint while on an excursion at the Altun Ha Maya ruins site in Belize. Earlier in March, a couple in Belize from a cruise ship reported that they were victims of an attempted armed robbery near the Museum of Belize.

As we mentioned in our last article, the Minister of Tourism of Belize was quoted earlier this year saying that that violent crime has been decreasing in the country. He said that over one million people visited Belize last year and crime against tourists was "rare."

Carnival and other cruise lines which call on this port should issue warnings to their guests that these type of crimes have occurred at port, in Belize City and during excursions from the port.

Source of information: Carlos Martinez

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September 29, 2016 Update: Several people pointed out that the Belize sign near where the robbery took place is outside of the gates to the port. So the robbery did not technically take place "at the port" to the extent that this means "in the port." 

Robbery Belize Cruise Port

Robbery Belize Cruise Port

 

Cruise Tourists Attacked in Belize

Vision of the SeasA couple of days ago, we posted an article about cruise passengers who were robbed while visiting the Altun Ha Maya ruins site in Belize. During this incident, two cruise passengers were reportedly robbed of a gold necklace and $450 in cash by two men, one with a machete and one with a handgun.

A local television station said that "the tourism police officers were lax in carrying out their duties. When the last tourist bus left, so did the tourism police, although the site had not been closed."    

But the Ministry of Culture later issued a press release saying "there was adequate police and security presence at the Archeological Site."

Today, we were notified by a passenger, wishing to stay anonymous, who visited Belize City on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Vision of the Seas, and told us that her husband had been physically assaulted and battered in an apparent robbery attempt on March 8th after their cruise ship docked at the Tourism Village. She indicated that after a ten minute walk from the port on Gabourel Lane, she and her husband ate luch and began to return to the ship.  A local man "came up from behind with a rifle and said he was going to kill us if he did not get my bag."  Here is her account:

"We were victims of an attempted armed robbery on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 near the Museum of Belize after lunch at Senor Coconuts while walking back to port. My husband was hit on the head with the barrel of a rifle and sustained injury to the head (requiring stitches) and bruises on the arm and hand and I also sustained scratches and bruises. Luckily, there was a women nearby who scared him off. The police never arrived until we were at the hospital. We were driven there by a couple in the area. We were treated at the hospital and driven back to port. We were on RC Vision of the Seas. It is our understanding there is little police presence because they are underfunded and undermaned. This is a very dangerous place filled with crime and cruise ship visitors are not advised of this by the ships. I was really concerned because of all the young college girls on the ship. Do not go out of Tourism Village. The city of Belize is very unsafe."

The passenger told me "I want people to know if it weren't for two kind women, I don't know what more could of happened . . . There were three cruise ships in port that day, probably over 3,000 people. The cruise ships need to warn you, but they don't. We learned the hard way."

Photo credit: ZipIt at English Wikipedia transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons

Cruise Passengers Robbed in Belize

A newspaper in Belize reports that cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint yesterday while on an excursion at the Altun Ha Maya ruins site.

The newspaper explains that a tour guide, identified as Clifford Hoare, and six cruise tourists "lost cash and other valuables to two armed and masked men."

The newspaper also says that "the transport from the cruise ship had left just minutes before, and the tourist police acting as security had left along with them."

Neither the cruise line nor the cruise ship were identified in the article.

Alta Ha BelizeLocal police detained a number of people from a nearby village as suspects.

Earlier this year, a U.S. tourist from Chicago was found murdered while on vacation in the Cayo District of western Belize. She was an executive producer of online operations at a local ABC affiliate in Chicago. 

Earlier in January, a Canadian filmmaker Matthiew Klinck was found stabbed to death in his home in Spanish Lookout. 

These and other murders in Belize led a number of publications to question whether Belize is safe for tourists?

The Minister of Tourism of Belize was quoted earlier this year saying that that violent crime has been decreasing in the country. He said that over one million people visited Belize last year and crime against tourists was "rare." But the country is impoverished and, my thoughts at least, tourists from a cruise ship stick out like a sore thumb and are often targeted while ashore in Central America and the Caribbean. Also Belize has a murder rate of 44.7 murders per 100,000 of the population, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (Only Honduras and Venezuela are worse.)

To put this into context, the U.S. has a murder rate of around 4.5 per 100,000. Detroit has a rate of 43.5 murders per 100,000. So traveling to Belize is essentially like traveling to an country with a country-wide murder rate comparable to a city with the highest murder rate in the U.S.

Robbing cruise passengers on an excursion is hardly rare.  Read Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!

March 10, 2016 Update: Channel 7 Belize reports that only two cruise passengers, along with the private tour guide, were robbed. The two men who robbed them had what appeared to be a "black 9 millimetre handgun and a machete." Here's what Channel 7 reported: 

" . . . as we later found out from the officer in command of Belize Eastern Rural, the tourism police officers were lax in carrying out their duties. When the last tourist bus left, so did the tourism police, although the site had not been closed. According to police, two tourists were then robbed of items including 1 gold necklace and about $450 US Dollars in different denominations. They were on a private tour with one Clifford Hoare Belizean Tour Guide of Hattieville Village when the men accosted the tourists and tour guide."

March 11, 2016 Update:  Channel 7 Belize reports that the pollice in Belize arrested a suspect in the robbery.  It cites the Ministry of Culture's press release saying, quote, "There was adequate police and security presence at the Archeological Site." this is in contrast with the the local police and the news organization stating yesterday that the security was "lax."

Map credit: NordNordWest - using United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency data, CC BY-SA 3.0, creative commons / wikimedia.  

Cruise Passenger Killed During Excursion in Belize

Belize Cruise Excursion AccidentNews 5 in Belize is reporting that a U.S. cruise passenger on an excursion in Belize was killed when the SUV in which she was riding was struck from behind by a 18-wheel truck.

The on-line newspaper states that the 18-wheeler was loaded with oranges and was traveling from the Hummingbird Citrus Limited Two farm on the George Price Highway. The woman cruise tourist along with another cruise passenger were on an excursion in a sports utility vehicle, driven by the excursion driver, heading to "Jaguar Paw" for a day trip.

The truck driver was interviewed by the newspaper. He says that he the SUV allegedly overtook his truck and then allegedly stopped on the highway. The driver claims that the SUV allegedly "parked" on the highway. He honked the truck's horn for the SUV to move. He then tried to stop but the truck smashed into the SUV.    

A witness says it took the ambulance an hour to get to the accident scene, leaving the cruise tourists remained trapped inside the small car. The cargo truck "ended belly up on the highway which was littered with the thousands of oranges it was transporting."  

The tour guide was identified as Big John Taxi and Tour Company. A representative of the tour operator was quoted saying that the SUV was "heading towards Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw at mile 37 and upon reaching at the junction, just before the junction, he was tail ended by an eighteen wheeler truck filled with oranges.”

Another account on 7 News Belize explains that the SUV was waiting to turn off the highway to Jaguar Pawn with his blinker on, when the tractor-trailer rig smashed into the SUV and dragged it down it the highway.  

A television station in Belize also has an account of the accident. The news stations have released conflicting names of the deceased passenger. 

Last year, cruise passengers in a tour van survived a head-on collision in Belize. 

The highway in question is a major route taken by cruise passengers for cave diving excursions.

Photo Credit: Channel 5 Belize

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Belize Cruise Excursion Accident

March 2 2015 Update: Belize 5 News reports that another 18 wheeler truck struck and killed another motorist at this general location on the same highway near the turn-off for Jaguar Paw where cruise passengers and tourists go on cave and tubing excursions. There are comments by an eye-witness who complains that there needs to be steps taken to slow down truckers a this location. 

Carnival and Royal Caribbean Threaten to Pull Out of Belize Due to Ebola Screening

7 News Belize reports that after Belize’s Ministry of Immigration announced new stringent measures for Ebola screening at the Belize Harbor, Carnival and Royal Caribbean "threatened to pull scheduled cruises fast and furious."

In an article entitled Cruise Ships Balk At New Ebola Screening, Threaten Mass Cancellations, the leading news station in Belize said that the new stringent Ebola protocols caused delays due to the tight schedules and the large number of cruise passengers who come ashore.

There is mention in the article of Belize customs representatives taking and inspecting the passengers' passports during the screening. Belize’s government has already stopped issuing visas for nationals from Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Travelers who have visited any of these four countries in the past 30 days will be prohibited from entering Belize. This will require an inspection of passports, not just birth certificates many people use to cruise.  

The cruise industry protocol so far relies upon passengers to voluntarily disclose this information on questionnaires, rather than the cruise lines inspecting the passengers' passports before the cruise to verify that they have not traveled to these countries in West Africa. Unlike Belize, the U.S. has not banned travelers from the infected African countries.

7 News Belize reports that Royal Caribbean threatened to cancel earlier this week; however, the Ebola Carnival Magicscreening process was streamlined and the Navigator of the Seas called on port  as scheduled. 

The Minister of Tourism in Belize told the news station that " . . . as a government we have to be extremely cautious. The tourism industry is a very sensitive industry and it's the bread and butter of many destinations." 

Last week, Belize barred the quarantined Carnival Magic passenger from coming ashore after it was disclosed that she handled the blood samples of the deceased Ebola victim who was treated at the Texas hospital in Dallas. 

According to the news station, around 1,000,000 tourists will arrive in Belize via cruise ship this year.

 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Longbowe Creative Commons 3.0

Belize Tourism Industry Association Sues NCL to Block Mega Cruise "Harvest Caye" Development in Belize

Belize 7 News reports in an article "BTIA Gets Their First Day In Court Against NCL" that the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is trying to block the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) "mega cruise development" on Harvest Caye in Southern Belize.

BTIA argues that under pressure from Miami-based NCL, Belize's Department of Environment (DOE) rushed the massive and environmentally unsound project and avoided consulting with the public in Belize.

The news source quotes the lawyer for the BTIA saying that the DOE refused to provide the public with notice of the project and an opportunity to object to the Miami-motivated project:  " . . . they were Harvest Caye NCL Projectrushing the thing and doing it in breach of the law which is set up there to make sure that the public has full opportunity to participate."

In April, the San Pedro Sun reported that there was resistance to the project with local residents objecting to the flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the procedural impropriety of the DOE for failing to follow statutory procedures.

The newspaper indicated that NCL and local supporters of the project hosted a wine and filet mignon party on the Norwegian Jewel to convince the local media to support the Harvest Caye project.

Read NCL Wines & Dines the Media While Frosting the Harvest Caye Cake.

This area has beautiful, ancient coral reefs (see video) which will be destroyed by the dredging to accommodate NCL's large cruise ships.   

Consider what Royal Caribbean did to the coral reefs when it expanded the port in Falmouth, Jamaica

Cruise Passengers on Excursion in Belize Involved in Head-On Collision

Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station's account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway - right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion's equipment and the driver's background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

Busted in Belize: Shaking Down the Cruise Ship Tourists

Belize - Cruise Ship - Pot - MarijuanaDr. Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie and Local News Station 5 in Belize are reporting on the arrest of two cruise passengers who went ashore in Belize last week. Both young men were caught with small amounts of pot in Belize's "tourism village" and were arrested. 

As I have mentioned before in a prior article, Reefer Madness: Cruise Passengers Busted in Belize During Cruises, don't think that the police in Belize will look the other way if you are a cruise passenger and want to buy pot ashore in Belize.

Even though the drug dealers will try and sell you pot and whatever else you want as soon as you step off of the cruise ship, Belize has a reputation of arresting, fining and/or jailing tourists for possession of small amounts of  the evil weed.  

You can get arrested for pot, even though you just bought the weed ashore. It's less than clear whether this is part of an undercover drug sting or just corrupt cops working with the dealers.   

The arrests last week involve two cruise ship passengers who arrived in Belize. One passenger was from Dayton, Tennessee and the other was from Saint Martin. 

The arrests occurred less than an hour before the last tender was to sail back to the passengers' cruise ship. One passenger with 4.7 grams of marijuana was fined $400. The other passenger had 8 ounces was fined $800. Both men paid their fine and rushed off to their waiting tender to make it back to the ship.

That's speedy "justice" in Belize. $1,200 in fines collected in about 45 minutes.

There are lots of articles online about cruise passengers arrested in Belize for "acting suspiciously at the tourism village."  That could mean whatever the arresting police officer wants it to mean. 

Cruise passengers are easy marks. No one is going to argue due process or other legal mumbo-jumbo while there is no bail for cruise passengers in Belize. It's easier to pay the fine, get back on the ship, and drink a margarita than to go to jail.  

April 20 2016 Update: Court Says Cruise Visitor’s Cannabis Cool. 

Carnival Dream Turns Into Deadly Nightmare

Courthouse News reports today on a disturbing story regarding a cruise passenger's death due to what is alleged to be delayed and inadequate shipboard medical care.

The story involves John and Victoria Showers who sailed from Miami on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Dream.

After leaving Miami, Ms. Showers complained of constipation. She went ashore in Cozumel, the following day, where she purchased laxatives that didn't help her. The article states that Ms. Showers experienced severe abdominal pain while back on the cruise ship. The following morning, Mr. Showers called the ship's medical personnel, who eventually sent a wheelchair to their cabin and took Ms. Showers to the infirmary.

Carnival Dream Cruise Ship - Medical Malpractice But instead of seeing a ship doctor, Ms. Showers was seen by who appears to be a nurse who did not take a history, or take her vital signs, or examine her according to Mr. Showers.  All the cruise employee did, according to the article, was to give Ms. Showers two fleet enemas.

When the ship doctor finally saw Ms. Showers later in the afternoon, he diagnosed a bowel obstruction after examining her.  The ship doctor recommended she she be seen at a medical center in Belize where crew members are treated.

Once Ms. Showers was ashore in Belize City, the doctors there stated that they could not provide emergency treatment for her. Mr. Showers had to arrange for emergency medical evacuation of his wife to Miami.

The doctors in Miami found that fecal matter had entered Ms. Showers abdominal cavity, causing an infection and other severe complications. Following hospitalization from November 4th and many surgeries later, Ms. Showers died on December 22nd.

We have written many articles about bad medical care on cruise ships and in the Caribbean, and the difficulties holding cruise lines responsible for medical malpractice.  Read: If The Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad

Reefer Madness: Cruise Passengers Busted in Belize During Cruises

Reefer madness, Belize style.  So you're a young  cruise passenger wanting to get high while visiting some of the ports you visit.  Certainly no one in a third world place like Belize will hassle you, right?

Wrong.

Consider the following news reports from Belize regarding the consequences of cruise passengers choosing to either buy pot or bring a few joints ashore while cruising to Belize. 

Channel 5 Belize reports of a young passenger who was spotted by the local police with a marijuana cigarette.  She quickly swallowed it as the cops moved in on her.

Reefer Madness - BelizeWitnesses say the two male officers choked her and dragged her on the ground in front of a crowd that was infuriated by the way she was manhandled.  After a day and a half in lockdown, she was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and harm against a police officer.  She pleaded not guilty to three charges and told the court that she was in shock about how she was treated.

The local magistrate told her that because she is not a Belizean, bail was not an option. 

Eventually, two of the charges were dropped and the cruise passenger was found guilty of obstruction of justice and fined two hundred and fifty dollars to be paid immediately or face jail.  The cashier had already closed for the day and she had to stay the weekend in jail until Monday when she can pay her fine.

In another incident, 7 News Belize reports that a cruise passenger to Belize was arrested for possession of 2.9 grams of pot two days ago. 

The passenger is a 21 year old American college student from Florida. The incident occurred around 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday at the Tourism Village where many passengers visit in Belize. 

A local magistrate fined the passenger $1,000 or in default serve one year in prison. 

2.9 grams probably cost him $25.  The racket in countries like this (Bermuda being the worst) is that no one will contest the legality of the search or the penalty when threatened will a year in jail for such a small amount of pot.    

You can read another similar situation involving a 25 year old cruise passenger in Belize here.  The  passenger faced a seven month sentence for 8 grams of pot because he did not have the funds to pay the fine. 

These local news outlets do a remarkably detailed job reporting these minor offenses while always publishing a photo of the U.S. citizen busted for pot.  In none of these stories did the newspapers identify the name of the cruise ship where the passengers came from.  

Hunting stoned cruise passengers seems to be a sport in Belize

Cruise Passenger Busted for Crack in Belize City

7 New Belize reports today on the arrest of a 27-year old British cruise passenger in Belize City.

A police officer working at the Tourism Village reportedly arrested Paul Smith, after he was "acting suspiciously" and searched him. The officer found 2.3 grammes of crack cocaine inside a pack of cigarettes in Smith's pocket.

Smith pleaded guilty to trafficking and a local constable fined him ten thousand dollars to be paid forthwith, or serve three months in prison. 

The newspaper reports that Smith was unable to pay the fine and remains in jail. 

The article did not mention the name of the cruise ship.  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean sail to Belize.

You can read other stories about passengers busted for drugs during cruises here.

Holland America Line Sued Following Death of Passenger During Excursion in Belize

The Seattle Times reports that the husband of a cruise passenger filed a wrongful death suit Holland America Line in Seattle after his wife was killed during a cruise sponsored snorkeling excursion.

The incident occurred when passenger Diana Mechling had just entered the water from the excursion boat off the coast of Belize to start snorkeling.  The operator put the vessel in reverse, and the propeller struck Ms. Mechling.  According to the newspaper, her husband, Michael Mechling, was present on the snorkeling vessel during the incident.  Ms. Mechling died in a local hospital.

The Belize-based operator of the snorkeling excursion, Cruise Solutions Belize Ltd., was also named in the lawsuit.

We reported on this tragedy last February shortly after the incident occurred.  You can read the account here

A local newspaper in Belize, 7 News Belize, reported in February that Port Authority Belize concluded its investigation into matter and found that the Captain of the boat Reef Rocket, Martine Manuel Pariente was negligent.  The Port Authority has decided to charge the cruise operator with negligently causing loss of life, and has suspended his captain's license.

The passenger's family can now expect the Belize excursion company to deny that it is subject to jurisdiction in the United States, as it has done in other cases where cruise passengers are injured during cruise excursions.

Holland America Lines Passenger Killed while Snorkeling in Belize

7 New Belize reports that a cruise passenger died yesterday while snorkeling in Belize's waters.  American tourist, Diana Mechling, age 59, was reportedly snorkeling at Goff's Caye in Belize when she was struck by the propeller of a catamaran.

The newspaper in Belize indicates that Ms. Mechling was treated at Belize Medical Associates where she died.  According to a representative of Holland America's agent in Belize, Cruise Solutions, the passenger was on a snorkel excursion tour when she was injured. 

Belize - Cruise Ship Paradise?Ms. Mechling was in Belize on Holland America Line's Ryndam cruise ship.  Cruise lines like HAL are legally responsible for investigating the excursion companies with which they do business and making certain that the tour companies have adequate safety rules and regulations for the protection of the cruise passengers.  

The newspaper states: "apart from being a terrible personal tragedy for Mrs. Mechling's family, It is a huge black eye for an already suffering cruise industry - and major fallout is expected."

There have been numerous unsettling stories about the cruise industry coming out of Belize recently.  7 News Belize reported  on a  21 year old cruise passenger who went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship in Belize waters last month.  The story has received no coverage in the U.S., even though the cruise line is based here in Miami and the deceased passenger's family retained counsel in Miami. 

7 News Belize also published an incredible article providing insight into the dispute between cruise giant Carnival and the local tender boat operators in Belize.   

The country of Belize is also the location of a struggle between another cruise giant Royal Diana MechlingCaribbean, which is looking to expand its operations, and the small village of Placencia which is fighting to keep the cruise line out.   

February 4, 2011 Update:

The local news stations in Belize, 7 News Belize and Channel Five Belize, are continuing to report on the investigation into this incident. 

February 8, 2011 Update:

Ms. Mechling's funeral in Westerville Ohio is on Friday, February 11, 2011. 

Her orbituary can be viewed here.

February 9, 2011 Update:

7 News Belize reports that the Port Authority Belize "has concluded its investigation into matter and found that the Captain of the boat Reef Rocket, Martine Manuel Pariente was negligent.

According to a release from the authority, around 1:30 pm last Wednesday, Mechling was in a group of tourists that was getting off the Reef Rocket when she got entangled in one of the boat's propellers and received a large cut wound to the lower pelvic and thigh area.

We note that this differs from the police account which last week said that she somehow ended up snorkeling under the vessel.

But based on its finding The Port Authority has decided to charge 55 year old Pariente with negligently causing loss of life, and has suspended his captain's license. The Reef Rocket has been prohibited from sailing pending further inquiries."

October 21, 2011 Update:  Mr. Mechling filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Holland America and Cruise Solutions Belize in Seattle, Washington.

Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Belize is reporting that a 21 year old cruise passenger went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship and disappeared today. 

7 News Belize reports that the passenger went overboard from the 12th deck of the cruise ship.  The passenger's family noticed that he was missing around 9:00 a.m. this morning.  When the young man could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras that showed him going overboard from the twelfth deck of the ship at 3:25 am.  The article indicates that is is unclear whether the passenger jumped or fell. 

Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Overboard This is a story which has not been reported in the mainstream press, yet.  It is highly unlikely that the young man jumped as speculated by the media in Belize.  Was he over-served alcohol, which would reflect negligence by the cruise line?  Was there evidence of foul play, again not likely but to be considered.  

A pro-cruise website "Cruise News Daily" has a few sentences on the incident which seems to be based on the Belize newspaper.  But the website claims that "a review of the ship's security cameras found footage of the man climbing over the railing on Deck 12, and then letting go."  There is no reference to a source for this allegation.     

Does someone on the cruise have information regarding this sad story?    

January 7, 2011 Update:

A radio station in Belize has the following information regarding this incident:

"Search efforts for a missing cruise ship passenger were halted today as the Port Authority of Belize and National Coast Guard Service were given directives to discontinue their efforts. 53-year-old Puerto Rican Margarita Sandini Tello reported that her son 21-year-old Jose Miguel Pietri Tello was missing off the cruise ship, Liberty of the Seas. Surveillance cameras showed the young man jumping or falling off the twelfth deck of the ship shortly after three thirty on Wednesday morning. The family of the twenty one year old reported to cruise personnel that they noticed that he was missing around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and when he could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras. The Belize Port Authority along with the National Coast Guard were called in to search for the body as the incident occurred in Belize waters  . . . " 

A newspaper in Belize contains a quote from the local police that  “video footage was obtained where it was observed that Jose [Jose Miguel Pietri Tello, 21, of Puerto Rico] jumped off the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship at 3:38 a.m.”    

January 9, 2011 Update:

Passengers from the cruise ships are indicating that the young man may have been over-served alcohol which resulted in him becoming disoriented and falling from the cruise ship. The Belize translation of events that this young man "jumped" seem bogus.   Is this an incident like young cruise passenger Daniel DiPiero who was over-served alcohol and disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas after being over-served alcohol? 

January 19, 2011 Update:

We received a number of comments (below) emailed from a "Joe" using a hotmail email account.  The comments are the usual its-a-matter-of-personal-responsibility rather than corporate responsibility type of thing.  Very disrespectful.  We have determined, 100%, that the comments came from a computer at Royal Caribbean.  Is it a PR person or someone in a position of management?  Or a misguided  employee?  We don't know, but we know the comments came from Royal Caribbean.  Pitiful than a cruise employee uses an alias and a bogus hotmail account.  Only at Royal Caribbean does this foolishness occur.  

No Cruises In Placencia: Royal Caribbean Refuses to Discuss its Environmental Record

Last month I ran across an interesting blog called No Cruises In Placencia which focuses  on the plight of the tranquil fishing village of Placencia, Belize which Royal Caribbean has targeted as a future site for a new port for its cruise ships.

Placencia is located in southern Belize, and is described as one of the most beautiful locations in Central America where it is known for its beaches and first rate diving and fishing.

No Cruises In PlacenciaBut a portion of the tranquil town may be transformed into a private "tourist village" if the Miami-based cruise line giant Royal Caribbean Cruises has its way.   The cruise line and a group of secret investors already purchased land in the little fishing town with big plans to build a port and a cruise tourist village.

Royal Caribbean has been working behind the scenes for a long time to establish a foot-hole in Placencia.  Most citizens of Placencia did not know that the cruise line had already bought land in the town and was moving forward with their plans to build a port to accommodate their cruise ships.

When word got out the majority of the residents in Placencia were upset that a behind the scene deal deal seemed to be struck.  The No Cruises website explains the issues in a rather straight forward manner - the downside of mass tourism via cruise ship are real and substantial - crime, social and cultural disruption, the loss of character of the town, and the loss of control of your John Tercek - Royal Caribbean Cruises Commercial Developmenthomeland to a multi-national corporation with a felony record of widespread pollution. 

The locals in Placencia raised their legitimate concerns of what a Royal Caribbean designed tourist village would do to their town and lifestyle. 

If history is any lesson, one has to look no further than Royal Caribbean's track record in places like Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica to see what's in store for the people of Placencia.      

The Belize Tourism Board ("BTB") scheduled a public forum where several hundred local citizens spoke out about the project, but they first had to endure a 45 minute lecture by a vice president of Royal Caribbean, John Tercek, who oversees the cruise line's commercial development plans.   

A local newspaper in Belize, the Reporter, wrote about the meeting in an appropriately entitled article "Placencia, A Done Deal?" by Niall Gillett. 

Mr. Gillett commented on some interesting developments at the meeting. Many people questioned the fact that the CEO of the BTB, Mike Singh, had previously worked at Century 21 which brokered the land deal with the cruise line, thus raising the uncomfortable issue of whether individuals on No Cruise In Placencia Belizethe local tourism board profited from the sale of the cruise ship village land. 

The newspaper also wrote that the crowd at the meeting asked Royal Caribbean representative Tercek about issues of pollution, a key concern given this cruise line's deplorable environmental crimes:

“Can you comment on your company’s environmental record?”  VP Tercek refused the microphone.  No comment."

Royal Caribbean is one of the least  transparent corporations in the world, and the worst environmental cruise polluter in the history of the cruise industry.  Its interests are its own corporate bottom line profits - not the welfare, environment or culture of a special place like Placencia.

My Opinion?   Something smells very fishy about these behind the scene deals which are now coming to light.  But the smell is not from the beautiful fishing village of Placencia   .  .  its coming from the corporate office of Royal Caribbean in Miami.

 

Join the Facebook Group:  Keep Cruise Ships Away from Placencia

 

 

Credits:

Top photo:   nocruises.org

Middle photo:  FCCA website

Bottom photo:  Keep Cruise Ships Away from Placencia facebook page  

Video: YouTube via LeslieTech  Placencia, Paradise At The Crossroads- Cruise Tourism Problems & Possibilities (via Marty)