Passenger Charged with Raping Boy on NCL Cruise Ship

Adam ChristopherOn August 30, 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed criminal charges against a man reportedly from Bay Springs, Mississippi for allegedly raping a 15-year-old boy on a NCL cruise ship during a seven-day cruise from Boston to Bermuda. The sexual assault reportedly occurred on August 14, 2017 while the cruise ship was docked in Bermuda, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston.* 

The incident was first reported by the newspapers in Bermuda, including Bernews and the Royal Gazette, which did not mention of name of the assailant or the cruise ship where the incident occurred. The newspapers in Bermuda, which typically do a poor job of reporting about crimes on cruise ships, did not provide any details regarding the alleged shipboard crime.  

The federal court filing in federal court in Boston (see below) indicates that the United States charged Adam Christopher Boyd, age 30, with one count of sexual abuse of a minor. Mr. Boyd was arrested in Bermuda and faces extradition back to the United States. The court filing indicates that the cruise ship where the rape occurred is the Norwegian Dawn. According to an affidavit from a FBI agent in support of the criminal charges and arrest warrant, the Dawn arrived at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda on August 13, 2017 where it was scheduled to spend three days before returning to Boston.

The FBI affidavit states that before the rape, the 15-year-old boy was drinking alcohol on deck 13 of the ship with other passengers who he met during the cruise.  Mr. Boyd met the child and informed him that he was an hairdresser and offered to braid the child's hair. Mr. Boyd reportedly asked the child his age and the boy said he was 15-years-old. The FBI reportedly later interviewed another passenger who stated that Mr. Boyd asked him if the boy was really just 15-years-old, and the passenger confirmed that the minor was, in fact, 15-years-old and not 18 as Mr. Boyd later claimed.  

According to the court filing, Mr. Boyd volunteered to escort the boy back to his cabin and offered the boy to stay in Mr. Boyd's cabin which the child declined. The ship's surveillance footage reportedly showed Mr. Boyd and the boy leaving deck 13 early in the morning of August 14th; another passenger verified that the boy appeared to be intoxicated at the time. When they reached a secluded area of deck 14, Mr. Boyd kissed the child and put his hands down the minor's pants and felt his genitals, following which he anally raped the child, according to the affidavit.  After the incident, the boy told a group of other teenagers who he previously met during the cruise, that he had been sexually assaulted. He also he told the police in Bermuda, who later came onto the ship to investigate the incident, that he had been "raped."

The court filing further indicates that other passengers stated that later that morning they saw the boy sitting by himself on deck 13, appearing upset and crying.  The child eventually returned to his cabin and reported the sexual assault to his family who alerted the ship's security personnel who, in turn, notified the police in Bermuda. The local police took the child to a hospital where a rape kit was administered. The police arrested Mr. Boyd who denied that penetrated the child.

The FBI agent, who prepared the affidavit, stated that she believed that there was probable cause that Mr. Boyd violated Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2243(a) which defines sexual abuse as knowingly engaging or attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor who has not attained the age of 16 and is four years or more younger than the assailant. The sexual abuse of a minor carries a jail sentence of five to fifteen years and a fine of up to $250,000. 

Sexual assaults of minors on cruise ships is an issue which I write about often; last month NBC News aired an investigation into the sexual assault of minors on cruise ships - NBC News: Hidden Dangers for Children on Cruise Ships. We have written about boys as well as girls being victimized during cruises, not only by crew members but by other adult passengers. Cruise lines are in the business of selling carefree, dream vacations to idyllic destinations; the cruise industry will never warn passengers of the dangers of their children encountering predator crew members or pedophile passengers. 

The U.S. government has jurisdiction to prosecute cases of rape on cruise ships when a U.S. citizen is involved, as either the victim or the assailant.  The criminal charge in federal court in a case of rape of a child is characterized as the "sexual abuse" of a minor; there are no criminal federal statutes for "rape" or "sexual assault."  

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Photo credit: Rap Sheets - of Adam Boyd for arrest on charges of driving under the influence in Mississippi in August 2015. 

*Note: The Department of Justice writes: "The details contained in the charging document are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."  

September 26, 2017 Update: Passenger from Mississippi finally about to be extradicted back to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

 

 

Grandeur of the Seas Spots Abandoned Vessel Near Bermuda

Grandeur of the SeasThis morning the Grandeur of the Seas, cruising from Bermuda to Baltimore, changed course and took steps to assist what turned out to be a small abandoned vessel adrift on the high seas.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship stopped and investigated the derelict vessel. Cruise ships often stop and administer assistance in circumstances like this. Royal Caribbean deployed a rescue boat and the crew also threw life rings into the water in the event that there were people aboard the vessel.  

The crew of the rescue boat observed that that there were signs that another vessel has visited the stranded boat before. The crew of the Grandeur then collected the life rings and brought the rescue crew back aboard, and returned on its cruise back to the U.S.

Lowering and raising rescue boats like this is potentially dangerous, but it is a task that crew members often perform on the high seas.

Photo credit:  Anonymous (above); cruise passenger Natt Penn (below).  

Grandeur of the Seas Bermuda to Baltimore (dereliict boat)

Rescue Boat Accident on Norwegian Breakaway Injures Four

Norwegian Breakaway Rescue Boat AccidentA number of newspapers in Bermuda are reporting that four people were injured when a lifeboat fell from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was docked at port today.

The Royal Gazette says that one of the crew members is in critical condition at the hospital. This newspaper reports that a lifeboat had fallen from the cruise ship and "was left hanging from one wire resulting in four people falling into the water."

Bernews reports that NCL released a statement, saying that "on July 20 while Norwegian Breakaway was alongside in Bermuda, an incident occurred involving the ship’s rescue boat during a routine drill, affecting four crew members."

Bernews clarifies that a "rescue boat," as opposed to a lifeboat, was involved in the mishap.  A video shows what this newspaper says is a rescue boat flipped upside down in the water with its hull partially showing. 

I first became aware of the accident when PTZtv, which operates the webcam for this port, tweeted observing an unusually large EMS & police response to an incident at the port. 

A year ago, two NCL crew members were injured when a rescue boat from the Pride of American fell after cables broke while the cruise ship was in Hilo.   

Lifeboats accidents are not uncommon. In January of this year, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, 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.  In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed. 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 when it was being lifted in violation of a new CLIA safety protocol. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured. It was caused by a broken cable (photograph here).

Update:  One crew member injured in the accident has reportedly died, according to NCL.

Video and photo credit: Bernews

 

Ryndam Diverts to Bermuda to Care for Ill and Injured Passengers

Bernews reports that the Holland America Line (HAL) Ryndam cruise ship diverted to Bermuda in order to provide medical treatment for two passengers.

An 85 year old passenger suffered what is suspected to be a heart attack. A second passenger suffered a hand injury. 

Earlier in the week three passengers from the Ryndam were medevaced to hospitals in Miami. One of the passengers suffered a leg injury, one sustained a head injury, and a third passenger may have suffered a heart attack.

Photo Credit: Roger Wollstadt via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Ryndam

Norwegian Breakaway Passengers Busted in Bermuda for Drugs

Norwegian BreakawayThe Royal Gazette reports that Bermuda customs officials arrested two cruise passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway for possession of marijuana and drugs. 

A passenger from New York pleaded guilty to possessing ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis. 

According to the newspaper, cruise officials notified customs officers of a smell from the passenger's cabin. The customs officers entered and woke up a the passenger, who was sleeping. He allegedly admitted that he was in possession of the drugs. He opened the cabin safe which had "25 green pills, five yellow pills and a white powder," later determined to be ecstasy, a prescription drug and cocaine.

A local magistrate fined the passenger $3,950.

A second passenger from California also pleaded guilty to possessing pot. Cruise ship officials and customs officers searched her cabin when she was not there. They opened her cabin's safe where they found the pot. She explained she had been prescribed pot for medical reasons.

The magistrate fined her $1,000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

 

The Royal Gazette Takes a Look at Bermuda's "Reefer Madness" Policy

This week Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper has written about some of our articles about the island's policy of prosecuting U.S. passengers who have a few grams of pot in their cabins on cruise ships which arrive at port. 

Yesterday the Gazette published "Island’s Tough Line on Cruise Ship Passengers with Drugs is Criticised," which summarized some of our recent articles including More Reefer Madness from Bermuda’s Kangaroo Courts

Today, the newspaper published "The Best of Times, the Worst of Times." The opinion piece surprisingly agrees with our view that Bermuda's policy of shaking cruise tourists down for small amounts Bermuda Cruiseof pot, typically seized from the passengers' safes while they are ashore in Bermuda, accomplishes little except to damage the country's reputation as a tourist destination. 

Bermuda, like many island countries, could care less about principles of due process, probable cause, or search warrants regarding cruise ships. The customs officials there arrest cruise tourists to generate revenue. Unfortunately, the border and customs officials do not focus the same energy on arresting rapists or child pornographers on Bermuda-flagged cruise ships.

It's not just Bermuda that has a confused sense of priorities.

As violent crime spirals out of control in Nassau, tourism police in the Bahamas arrested a 23 year old cruise tourist from South Carolina. The Royal Bahamas Police website says that officers from the Tourism Policing Unit boarded an unidentified cruise ship at the port and arrested the passenger for possession of "dangerous drugs" on June 15th. In the Bahamas, marijuana is characterized as a "dangerous drug," even a single joint. 

Like Bermuda, the Bahamas does not care if there is probable cause for an arrest. It's a shame that these islands don't utilize these officers to target shipboard child predators or protect the passengers and crew members from robbery, rape and murder ashore.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / JoeyBagODonuts

More Reefer Madness from Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts

Busting U.S. cruise passengers for small amounts of pot is big business for the customs officers in Bermuda. It's a topic we have written about often.

The cases all seem the same. When the cruise guests go ashore, the customs officers board the ship with their sniffer dogs and conduct warrant-less searches without probable cause. They even request the ship security personnel to open up the safes in the cabins.  A gram or two brings a $500 or so fine which the passengers pay with a credit card to avoid the threatened three month jail sentence. 

This week, a newspaper in Bermuda reports that a U.S. passenger, age 25, "Chelsea," arrived in NCL Norwegian BreakawayBermuda on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway. The customs officers found 2 grams of marijuana in her cabin's safe. A man who shared her cabin (apparently her boyfriend) said the pot was his, but that didn't stop the police from handcuffing Chelsea and hauling her off to jail.

Chelsea claims that she was suffering from pain due to the cuffs and asked for relief several times from one of the officers. The newspaper says that after the arresting officer "repeatedly ignored her cries of pain," intimating that the officer intentionally tried to hurt her by twisting the middle part of the handcuffs, Chelsea cursed the officer saying:.

“You f***ing stupid b***h. You’re hurting me, you b***h.” 

This outburst led to the prosecutors charging her with "violently resisting arrest."

The presiding judge, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, scoffed at the charges pointing out that the woman did not become violent and cursed only after she was ignored when she complained of pain.

The prosecutors introduced no evidence on the resisting arrest charge.

Magistrate Warner then fined Chelsea $500 for the pot. You can read about Magistrate Warner in these articles: 

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined?

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas, an issue the cruise line security should deal with. But rapes or violent shipboard crimes? Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.

Compare Bermuda's madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships. For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crew members and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers. All of them served jail time. A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you'll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by police or customs officers or sentenced by Magistrate Warner. There's no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

Photo Credit: Bermuda Sun

 

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NCL Passenger Falls Two Decks on Norwegian Breakaway, Receives Medical Treatment in Bermuda

NCL Norwegian BreakawayThe Bermuda Sun reports that on September 17th a NCL cruise passenger was taken to a hospital in Bermuda after she fell two decks and was seriously injured. The woman was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The newspaper states that "it is unclear where exactly on the mega-ship that the accident took place or how it happened."

As a result, the NCL cruise ship made an early emergency stop so that the injured passenger could be taken to hospital for treatment. The Norwegian Breakaway was met with a pilot boat and the passenger was stretchered off the ship and eventually to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cruise Critic reports that NCL stated that "the guest accidentally fell from her balcony on Deck 10 to Deck 8 and was disembarked in Bermuda for medical treatment . . ." 

Following this incident, a second passenger, a 72 year old man, was taken from the cruise ship at port to the same hospital in Bermuda for a heart condition.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Reefer Madness - $1,000 or 100 Days in Jail - Bermuda Continues to Shake Down Cruise Passengers with Pot

Bermuda Customs Cruise Ship DrugsA newspaper in Bermuda reports today on two U.S. cruise ship passengers who were fined $1,000 after a small amount of pot was found in their cabins on a cruise ship in port.

In separate cases, two cruise passengers, each aged 53, were arrested after authorities in Bermuda boarded the Norwegian Dawn yesterday and conducted warrant-less searches of cabins on the cruise ship.

One man had 13 grams of cannabis in his cabin and the other had five grams.  

The Magistrate fined each man $1,000 or 100 days in jail.  

Arresting U.S. cruise passengers with small amounts of pot left in the cruise ship cabins is big business in Bermuda. NCL will sell you an all-you-can-drink alcohol package for $49 a day and you can get smashed on the cruise ship and then go to a bar ashore in Bermuda and get hammered and stagger back to the ship. No one cares.

But Bermuda loves to send sniffer dogs onto visiting cruise ships to search empty cabins for a joint or two without a warrant or probable cause. Why? Its easy money.

U.S. passengers with a few joints will Cruise Ship Reefer Madnessalways chose to fork over $1,000 to $3,000 rather than spend a few months in jail in the middle of the Atlantic waiting to fight the charges.

This is a ridiculous topic we have talked about often:

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness   

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

 

 

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Sentenced to 12 Years for Attempted Cocaine Smuggling into Bermuda

The Royal Gazette reports that a 52 year old U.S. cruise ship passenger was sentenced to prison for 12 years for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda. 

Jane Carmichael, from Hazelhurst, Georgia, was arrested on the Celebrity Summit when the Bermuda police accompanied by sniffer dogs came aboard the cruise ship in May of last year. 

Ms. Carmichael said that a Celebrity Cruises crew member asked her to deliver the cocaine to a bar which the newspaper did not identify. She was caught on the ship with four packages strapped to Celebrity Cruises Summit Cruise Ship Drug Busther body. The packages contained 3,452 grams of cocaine.

Ms. Carmichael had compelling circumstances for a shorter sentence.

She reportedly had been sexually abused as a child and she spiraled into depression following the death of a grandson. Her mother died a year before the cruise and she was also struggling financially after losing her job. She made several attempts to commit suicide.

Her defense lawyer argued that Ms. Carmichael had led a tragic life and had been “a victim of manipulation.”

We first wrote about this case a year ago. At that time a second passenger had been arrested, and a Celebrity crew member had been taken into custody as well. It sounds like only the drug mule and no crew members were prosecuted.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Trial Scheduled for Princess Cruises Crew Members Accused of Raping Woman on Grand Princess

Princess Cruises Cruise Ship RapeThe Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that two crew members employed on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship are heading for criminal trial after being accused of raping a woman.

As is often the case in Bermuda, the Bermudian press did not mention the name of the cruise line or the name of the cruise ship.  There is no prohibition from doing so, but the newspapers there seem inclined not to want to cause any embarrassment to Bermuda's U.S. based cruise line customers which register their ships in that island to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and safety laws.

The case involves two Italian crew members, age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California. 

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013.

Trial is scheduled for April 27, 2013.

Bermuda has a sorry record of prosecuting Princess crew members when they are accused of raping women on Princess cruise ships. No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

NCL Passenger Arrested for Stealing Painting the "Size of a Door" From Cruise Ship

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today that a passenger from the NCL Norwegian Star was arrested as he tried to disembark the cruise ship with a painting described as the "size of a door." 

The 43 year old passenger from Kentucky admitted that he stole the painting from the NCL cruise ship once it docked in Bermuda.  The newspaper states that the painting was "an official copy of a Rembrandt painting valued at $13,114.06."  

When the NCL cruise ship staff confronted him, the brazen thief claimed “I’m going to mail it home.”

Stolen Painting - Cruise ShipHe then gave various excuses regarding how he obtained the painting, claiming that he "bought it at auction, painted it himself and won it in a raffle."

One thing that the passenger didn't realize is that NCL cruise ships have the most CCTV surveillance cameras in the cruise industry. The newspaper states that the ship’s video footage showed him removing the painting from the wall and carrying it towards his cabin. 

His public defender told the Magistrate that he was a "recovering drug addict" and the medication he was on to treat opiate withdrawal caused him to act "oddly."  

The Judge went light on the recovering-drug-addict-turned-cruise-art-connoisseur and fined him $500.

Norwegian Star - Explorer of the Seas Collision Caught on Video!

A passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas video-taped the collision with the NCL Norwegian Star last week (September 14, 2012) in port in Bermuda.  The NCL ship was hit by high winds (75 MPH) which caused the Star to break away from its mooring lines and strike the stern of the Royal Caribbean ship.

The video was shot from the Windjammer cafe and you can hear the passengers excitedly chattering and sometimes laughing throughout the incident. A Royal Caribbean officer appears in the video and says "you hit my ship!"

The video is by Floobboober (YouTube):

 

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

Bermuda Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner was again busy fining cruise tourists last week.

According to the Bermuda Sun, Magistrate Warner fined a Norwegian Star passenger on his honeymoon $800 after the local police used a sniffer canine to locate a few marijuana cigarettes (6 grams) in the passenger's cabin while he and his newlywed bride were enjoying the sites ashore. 

I have written a dozen articles (here's one and here's another) about the good Judge Warner fining U.S. passengers big bucks for small amounts of pot.  It seems like these fines are a major source of revenue for Bermuda.  The fact that the pot is found only after police take dogs on the cruise ships to conduct searches of private cabins with no warrant or probable cause doesn't seem to mind the prosecution or the judiciary in Bermuda.

American passengers who are already kicked off the cruise ship and facing jail time are always quick to pay $500 to $3,000 to avoid a few months in the slammer on the rocky island.  What a racket.  The newspapers in Bermuda love covering these type of cases and are sure to plaster a photo of the busted pothead in their newspapers

And speaking of rackets, Magistrate Warner also fined a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger $4,000 after he was caught stealing stuff on the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship.  According to Bernews, the Royal Caribbean security caught a passenger from New Jersey "using (a) stolen credit card in three transactions to dishonestly acquire goods and services (from the ship spa) including two bottles of men’s cologne."

Now I don't like crooks and I'm glad that the bad guy with the cologne got caught.  But I wonder how on Explorer of the Seas Nassau Bahamasearth a judge in Bermuda could assert jurisdiction over a theft committed by a U.S. citizen on a foreign flagged cruise ship in international waters?

According to Bernews, Magistrate Warner was also wondering why he was presiding over such a case. The newspaper states: "After questioning and then confirming that the ship was a "Bermuda Registered ship" and Bermuda authorities were lawfully able to take action, Senior Magistrate Archie Warner allowed the case to proceed."

The problem is that the Explorer of the Seas is not a vessel registered in Bermuda. Everyone knows that. No Royal Caribbean cruise ships are registered in Bermuda. The Explorer of the Seas is registered in and flies the flag of the Bahamas. (Next time the magistrate should send someone to the dock and take a photo of the cruise ship's stern. You will see: Explorer of the Seas - Nassau.)

Bermuda, the Bahamas, whatever. Both start with a "B," close enough for Magistrate Warner.  The short hearing netted Bermuda $4,000 - quick money for a case that it has no jurisdiction over.    

This would be amusing, I suppose, except for the fact that Bermuda demonstrates no interest in prosecuting serious cruise ship crimes.  Bermuda looks the other way when faced with rapes, abandonment of mariners at sea, or mysterious disappearances of crew members that occur on cruise ships which are, in fact, flying the maritime flag of Bermuda.

 

Photo Credit: Explorer of the Seas - travel.com

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

Bermuda's never ending war on cruise passengers continues with the Royal Gazette newspaper reporting today that "Tearful Cruise Passenger Fined for Drugs."

The newspaper reports that NCL cruise passenger Mr. Cruz (I'm not kidding)  broke into tears today as he was charged with cannabis possession.

The case involves the familiar scheme where the Bermuda customs officials welcome the cruise passenger into their country to shop, eat and drink and then send sniffer dogs on the cruise ship to conduct random and warrant-less searches of the passengers' cabins. 

Cruise Ship Pot - BermudaThe dogs sniffed out some reefer, 12 grams, from 26 year old Cruz' cabin on the Norwegian Star.

The sentencing judge was, as usual, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, whose title should be Senior Collector of Revenue. 

Cruz pleaded for mercy: “I’m sorry. I know I was not supposed to do it but my mom has stage four cancer and my dad just got an injury to his eye.”

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner could care less and whacked him $800, without any expressions of condolences to Cruz's sick family. 

The beat in Bermuda goes on .  .  . 

 

For other reefer madness stories, read:

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness

 

May 18, 2012 Update:  The Royal Gazette news paper in Bermuda picks up on our blogs about busting passengers for small amounts of pot.

May 25, 2012 Update:  "Driving Tourists Away" - interesting letters to the editor in Bermuda about cruise ship pot. 

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting on what is routine practice in Bermuda when a cruise ship arrives from the U.S.  Customs officer take a sniffer dog aboard and find a few joints of pot in a passenger's cabin.

Today a 30 year old passenger sailing aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship pleaded guilty to two charges involving the possession of 7.16 grams of pot and 0.88 grams of ecstasy.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner presided over the case, as usual. The prosecutors told the magistrate that around 1:25 PM on Sunday May 13th, a Bermuda Customs canine in a sniffer dog team Cruise Ship Drug Bust - Bermuda - Archibald Warnerhad alerted to illegal drugs in cabin 8597 on board the Norwegian Dawn. The cabin, unoccupied at the time, was entered and searched. 

Later that day, on his return to the ship, the Bermuda officials arrested the passenger and took him to the police station. Today, he told the magistrate that the drugs were  “For my personal use to party while I was on the cruise.”  The Magistrate fined him $800 on the charge of possessing the pot and another $800 for possessing the powder. 

We have written over a dozen articles like this. Just the other week, I wrote this one - Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness.

Magistrate Warner has fined every cruise passenger who has stood before him with a little reefer found on the cruise ship. No need for probable cause or a search warrant.  American potheads are easy money.

Very strange revenue collection business going on in Bermuda and a real double standard as well. 

Yesterday I posted the Inside Edition video showing cruise passengers chugging beer, downing shots, showing their booty and passing out at the ship bar.  No cruise or port officials could care less. But expect the officials in Bermuda to shake you down for a few thousand dollars if you stash some reefer in your cabin to get high on the high seas.

May 16, 2012 Update: The South Florida Business Journal mentions our blog in an article Alcohol vs. Drugs on Cruise Ships

 

Photo Credit:  Royal Gazette

Coke Bust on Celebrity Sumitt Cruise Ship

The Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that Bermuda police officers arrested a 53 year old cruise passenger who tried to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda.

The newspaper states that the American cruise tourist allegedly strapped $369,000 worth of cocaine to her body and sailed to Bermuda on board the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.

The passenger is reportedly from Georgia.  Bermuda charged her with possession of cocaine with intent Celebrity Summit Cruise Ship - Drug Bustto supply on May 3rd.

After the Bermuda police were tipped that there was drugs in her cabin, they boarded the cruise ship and searched  her cabin.  She then allegedly admitted having the drugs strapped to her body. Officers then found four off-white packages inside a girdle. 

Cruise Critic has additional information, apparently based on information from Celebrity Cruises. It reports that "two female passengers and a Celebrity Summit stateroom attendant were arrested on drug charges on May 3 while the ship was docked in King's Wharf, Bermuda . . . law enforcement officers entered the passengers' cabin and found three kilograms of cocaine. At that time, the passengers implicated a stateroom attendant from Jamaica, who was also taken into custody."

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. More Bermuda Cruise Ship Reefer Madness

If you are a stoner who can't help stashing a couple joints of ganja in your socks to smoke sailing from New York to Bermuda, chances are you have a good chance of meeting Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner. 

You see, Magistrate Warner is a criminal judge in Bermuda's capital of Hamilton who helps the customs officers raise revenue for the little island in the middle of the Atlantic by fining cruise passengers who have small amounts of marijuana in their cabins on the cruise ships.  

The game goes like this.  Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships arrive in port.  The Bermuda customs officers sit back, smile and greet all of the cruise tourists.  Once the cruise ships have emptied out and the passengers are ashore to sight-see and drink, the customs officer take their sniffer dogs Bermuda Cruise Ship Pot Arrestsand conduct random searches of passenger cabins.

No need for a search warrant. No need for something we call "probable cause" in the U.S.  Once the dogs have sniffed out a few cigarettes of the evil weed, the customs officers wait for the passengers to return with their trinkets and souvenirs. Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

That's when Magistrate Warner steps in.  He has never seen a cruise passenger with a good excuse. I'm sorry your honor, I had no intention of bringing the pot ashore to your beautiful country.  $1,000 or 30 days in jail!  It's for medical use, I have a note from my doctor, I have cancer.  Nonsense, $3,000 or 60 days in the slammer!      

The penalty for having pot in your cruise cabin in port ranges for $500 to $3,000 (for less than 20 grams), a stern lecture by Magistrate Warner, and your photo appearing in Bermuda's Royal Gazette newspaper. Make certain that you cruise with cash or have a balance of a few grand in your ATM because Magistrate Warner will otherwise be happy to invite you to stay in a jail on the rocky island for 30-60 days in lieu of immediate payment.  

The latest cruise passenger to fall into the trap was a 43 year old passenger from New York last week. The newspaper article in Bermuda reports that the sniffer dogs were at work at 9:37 in the morning and found pot and a pipe in a safe in the cruise passenger's cabin on the Norwegian Star.  After a night in jail, the passenger was fined $2,000 for the pot and pot resin and $2,000 for the pipe.  Again, no search warrant, no probable cause, and pot-in-a-safe-on-the-ship scenario.  

The cruise passenger was contrite: “It’s embarrassing and I apologise to the court, the government, the police, customs and the ship as well."  $4,000 or off with your head! 

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined, are you a pothead too?  I'm happy to respond. No I don't toke,  Never have.  A nice scotch at the end of a long day is my vice.

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas.  But rapes or violent shipboard crimes?  Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.   

Compare Bermuda's madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships.  For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crewmembers and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers.  All of then served jail time.  A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you'll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by the customs personnel or sentenced by Magistrate Warner.  There's no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

More Reefer Madness - Bermuda's Screwed Up Sense of Priorities

Explorer of the Seas - Drug BustThe Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today on what has become a routine activity when a U.S. based cruise ships arrives in port - Bermuda Customs officials taking sniffer dogs aboard U.S. based cruise ships and arresting cruise passengers for a small quantity of drugs.

This week Bermuda Customs officers boarded the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Pride cruise ships and conducted random searches of passenger cabins before arresting two passengers from New York.  The big bust? One passenger had just 1.5 grams of pot and 0.7 grams of cocaine.  Can you even get high on 1.5 grams of reefer? 

The other passenger had 13 grams of pot.

One contrite busted passenger told Senior Magistrate Judge Archibald Warner "I didn’t have any intention selling it or smoking it on your Island.” The Magistrate was unimpressed and fined the twp passengers a total of $2,400. 

Busting American passengers for small amounts of drugs is big, big business in Bermuda.  We have written about it time after time.  You can read our articles about the crooked way of Bermuda and minor drug busts below: 

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Warner chastised prosecutors last year for conducting searches of passengers cabins without probable cause or a search warrant. He raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are Bermuda Pot - Cruise Shipslegal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."

The Magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a 28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot.

But it looks like Magistrate Warner is now part of the official machinery in Bermuda for processing small time pot heads to increase customs revenues for the island. 

Meanwhile the Captain of the Bermuda-flagged cruise ship, the Star Princess, operated by Bermuda incorporated Princess Cruises, remains free to sail the world notwithstanding sailing by three fishermen 100 miles off the coast of Panama.  The captain's I-didn't-know defense stinks.  2 young men are dead and their bodies are missing at sea.

Too bad that Bermuda focuses its limited resources on cruise ship passengers who use small time recreational drugs, rather than on Bermuda incorporated cruise lines which engage in intentional dereliction of duty leading to death of young men on the high seas.

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

The Star Princess' refusal to assist the three young men aboard the disabled Fifty Cents fishing boat has captivated the world's attention.  My first article on the troubling story - Two Dead Fishermen:  Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners In Distress? - elicited strong comments by the public. One comment on my blog from "Martin" about the captain of the Princess cruise ship summed up the essence of the problem:

"They have forgotten the human being."

There is a palpable sense of outrage that Princess abandoned three young men on the high seas.    

Where does this sense of anger come from?  What are the moral and civil obligations which arise from the tragic and entirely avoidable deaths of the young Panamanian men.

Moral and Biblical Duty to Assist Your Fellow Man 

Bible, Matthew 7:12  When I was a kid, my mother raised me with one fundamental governing principle in mind.  She taught me that my purpose in life was to help others. Although I did not realize it at the time, she was paraphrasing the Bible, Matthew 7:12:     

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the Law and the Prophets." (New Living Bible Translation)

The maritime obligation to assist people in distress at sea, in my view, is based firmly on the "Golden Rule" of helping others in the same way that you would want to be if you were in distress. 

The same life guiding principle is found in other faiths. There is an equivalent passage in the Torah, which warns people "never to turn aside the stranger, for it is like turning aside the most high God." The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that "the highest expression of faith is to love for others what you love for yourself and to dislike for others what you dislike for yourself."  In Buddhism, you will find "Act not on others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."

The maritime duty of a mariner to assist less fortunate mariners in peril on the high seas can be traced back to the Medieval Sea Codes where unwritten maritime traditions from the times of Jesus were first reduced to parchment.  

A mariner on a seaworthy vessel who sails away from seafarers in distress on a derelict vessel is, in essence, sailing away from himself and God Almighty in the process.

Modern Legal Considerations 

The duty to assist at sea is a fundamental part of U.S. maritime law.  In Caminiti v. Tomlinson Fleet Corp., 1981 MAC 201 (E.D. Ohio), passengers went overboard from their pleasure craft.  Two ships passed by and didn't stop, with one of the ships even shining its spotlight on the men struggling in the water before callously proceeding on.  The men drowned.

The shipping companies denied they had any obligation to assist the drowning men. The Court disagree, finding that the "law of the sea has always demanded a higher degree of care, vigilance and diligence." The duty to rescue "strangers in peril" exists even if the ships did not cause the peril in the first place. The Court stated that to accept the shipping companies' argument would create a situation "shocking to humanitarian considerations and the commonly accepted code of social conduct."   

Currently, there are three international conventions which impose a duty on ships to assist individuals in distress at sea.

The first is the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) regulations found in the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS). The second is the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCOLOS). The third is the International Convention of Salvage (1989) (“Salvage Convention”).  All three conventions essentially state that a captain of a ship once notified of persons in distress shall proceed with all speed to their assistance. 

Tulane Maritime Law Professor Martin Davies wrote an interesting law article which discusses the legal basis for these legal duties - Obligations and Implications for Ships Encountering Persons in Need of Assistance at Sea.  Professor Davies refers to the Director for the Center for Seafarer Rights in New York who states in a footnote: "there is no doubt that watchkeepers on some vessels, at least, pointedly look the other way as they close on small craft far from the shore.  Quiet words undoubtedly been spoken to masters about the inadvisability of being too zealously on hand and available . . ."

Fifty Cents Fishing Boat - IgnoredThe conventions include criminal penalties; there is the potential for the captain to be imprisoned and he and his employer to be fined.

Generally, these obligations can be enforced in a criminal context only by the “flag state.” All cruise ships fly "flags of convenience" in order to avoid U.S. taxes and labor and safety laws. For example, Carnival flies the flag of Panama. Royal Caribbean flies the flags of Liberia and the Bahamas. And Princess Cruises, which operates the Star Princess, flies the flag of Bermuda.

These countries are generally considered to be hesitant to enforce these conventions. They do not want to upset their cruise line customers.  Maritime Professor Davies writes: "many ocean-going commercial ships are registered under flags of convenience in countries notoriously unlikely to be zealous in enforcing the legal obligations imposed by the conventions." 

Bermuda has a maritime law which applies, called the Merchant Shipping Act of 2002, which recognizes the duty to assist ships in distress.  It states in part:

"The master of a ship, on receiving at sea a signal of distress or information from any source that a ship or aircraft is in distress, shall proceed with all speed to the assistance of the persons in distress unless he is unable, or in the special circumstances of the case considers it unreasonable or unnecessary . . ."

The Bermuda law includes criminal penalties, ". . . on conviction on indictment, to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of two years, or both."

Practical Considerations When Cruise Lines Violate International Conventions 

The legal framework is in place for Bermuda, as the flag state responsible for enforcing the IMO regulations, to investigate and proceed with a criminal hearing against Princess Cruises and its captain. The question is whether Bermuda will act and, if so, will act in good faith and seriously attempt to put the Princess captain behind bars.

I was interviewed last week by the BBC Radio and I expressed my doubts whether Bermuda will zealously proceed against Princess Cruises.  After all, Princess is Bermuda's customer.  Bermuda enjoys a chummy relationship with the California-based cruise line which favored Bermuda with its business. You can hear the BBC interview, including comments by one of the U.S. passengers who spotted the disabled fishing boat, here (the radio segment starts at the 36:25 mark).    

Bermuda states that it intends to conduct an investigation into the cruise ship’s failure to respond to the disabled fishing boats’ pleas for assistance.  But Bermuda does not have an impressive record Princess Cruises - Star Princess Cruise Shipinvolving criminal cases involving Bermuda flagged cruise ships. We have handled maritime crime cases against Bermuda flagged cruise ships, including a case where a woman was raped on the Star Princess, where Bermuda never even opened a file. 

If Bermuda white-washes the investigation and exonerates the captain, which I expect to be Bermuda's motivation for suddenly becoming interested in criminal conduct involving its ships, there is legal authority that other countries with an interest in the matter can to bring criminal action against the captain and the cruise line. Panama, whose citizens were killed by the captain's alleged dereliction of duty, can and should assert criminal jurisdiction if Bermuda fails to act or acts in bad faith.

This is a very significant issue because Princess cruise ships sail through the Panama Canal. If I were Princess Cruises, I would be very concerned that the Panamanian authorities will seize one of my cruise ships if it enters Panamanian waters.

Back to the Bible: An Eye For An Eye

In addition to the criminal issues, it is a certainty that the families of the survivor and the two dead young men will bring a civil action for compensation against the cruise line and the captain, either in the United States and/or Panama. It is also likely that they will file a notice of lien to seize a Princess cruise ship if one decides to sail through the Panama Canal.  

The civil lawsuit against Princess will also include punitive damages against the cruise lines seeking to punish the cruise line for its alleged willful and wanton conduct.  Like the obligation to assist others, the concept of punitive damages can be traced back to the Bible, Exodus 24:21: an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

 

Photo credits:

Fifty Cents Sail Boat - Jeff Gilligan

Star Princess - Jim Walker

 

A quote to remember this story: "Treat People As You Would Like to be Treated - Karma Is A Bitch Only If You Are" (author unknown). 

Carnival Cruise Passengers Sentenced to Six Years in Jail for Conspiracy to Smuggle Pot into Bermuda

Bermuda Judge Carlisle GreavesThe Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a judge in Bermuda sentenced two U.S. cruise passengers to six years in jail each after trying to smuggle pot into Bermuda.

Bermuda Judge Carlisle Greaves sentenced the two female Carnival cruise passengers from Georgia, Alloah Releford, age 24, and Latoya Powell, age 27, for attempting to  smuggle in 2.7kg of cannabis resin into the country. 

The two women had sailed to Bermuda aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship last year. 

The defense lawyers for the women argued for leniency, pointing out that Ms.Releford grew up as a child with both of her parents in jail.  Her mother died from lupus after being released from prison, leaving her to care for younger siblings as well as her own young children.  Ms. Powell was in debt $10,000 in medical bills for her daughter.

As is the case in Bermuda, the judge's sentencing and words for the two women were harsh:  

“Crybaby stories should not get them off easy.”

The women had been offered $5,000 each to smuggle the drugs to Bermuda.

Bermuda Drug BustWe have written many articles about Bermuda's harsh attitude toward U.S. passengers involved in using or importing drugs:

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

 

Photo Credit (bottom):  Akil Simmons / Royal Gazette

Carnival Cruise Passengers Admit Plotting to Import $400,000 of Pot Into Bermuda

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting today that two American women admitted plotting to import more than $400,000 of cannabis resin on a cruise ship into Bermuda.

In early October of this year, the Bermuda authorities arrested Alloah Jatan Releford, age 23, from Temple, Georgia, and Latoya Nicole Powell, age 27, from Marietta, Georgia. They had sailed from Charleston, South Carolina to Bermuda aboard Carnival's Fantasy cruise ship.

The drugs were found strapped to the women’s bodies.  The total weight was 2.7 kgs (6lbs), with a street value estimated to be over $400,000.

The cruise passengers will be sentenced next month.

Three Princess Cruises Passengers Hospitalized in Bermuda

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Princess CruisesThe Bermuda Sun reports this week that three cruise passengers were taken to the hospital in Bermuda after Princess Cruises' Grand Princess arrived in port.

A female passenger reportedly broke her ankle, a male passenger suffered a heart condition, and another male passenger lost consciousness in the cruise ship's swimming pool.  

This was the Grand Princess’s only trip to Bermuda this year. 

Bermuda has recently lost a number of cruise lines as customers this year.  Holland America just announced that the Veendam will no longer visit Bermuda after next year, after making 24 cruises from New York this year.  That announcement occurred shortly after Carnival announced that it was cutting cruises to Bermuda from 16 trips by four cruise ships this year, to just one in 2012.

The president of Bermuda's Chamber of Commerce characterized these developments as a “big blow to the island’s economy.” 

 

Photo credit:  Grand Princess cruise ship in Bermuda Flickr (tribewantedgilligan)

Cunard Drops Union Jack to Avoid British Labor Laws

Cunard's three cruise ships, Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, will no longer fly the Union Jack.

After 171 years of flying the Union Jack with Southampton painted on the stern, Cunard's cruise ships will now be registered in Bermuda and will bear the name Hamilton - Bermuda's capital. 

The question arises why Cunard, which has flown the British flag on its ships since 1840, would suddenly decide to flay a flag of convenience today?

Union Jack - Cunard Cruise Ship - Flag of Convenience - Cunard claims that the reason is simple.  It wants to offer "weddings at sea" where the captain can perform marriages.  Other cruise lines, like Princess Cruises which is flagged in Bermuda, earn income by performing marriages of passengers during cruises.  However, weddings at sea are not allowed under British law. 

But there is more to this story.  Britain's new "Equality Act 2010" requires that ship employees from EU countries who are working on British flagged vessel such as the Cunard cruise ships must be paid wages equal to those of the British crewmembers. By dropping the British flag, Cunard is dropping all the British wage and labor laws.  

Earlier this year, the New York Times published an excellent article regarding the shipping industry's use of "flags of convenience."  Entitled "Flying the Flag, Fleeing the State," the article explains how unscrupulous ship owners evade responsibility for environmental damage, exploitative labor and unsafe work conditions, and criminal behavior. 

The article reveals that ships used to fly the flags of their nation which protected the seafarers and passengers and punished the shipping companies when they broke the law.  But this changed when American flagged ships began flying the flags of foreign countries in order in order to avoid U.S. laws and government oversight.   The "foreign registries" were in countries with no government oversight and no real connection to the vessel or its owners in the first place, like Panama, Liberia, North Korea and even landlocked Mongolia.  The registries often fail to monitor the safety and working conditions on ships or investigate accidents.    

What are the real consequences of a cruise ship flying a flag of convenience?

For passengers or crewmembers who are victimized by a shipboard crime, Bermuda will have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes. You can read about the indifference and lackluster efforts of the Bermuda authorities in a recent article here.    

For crewmembers, they can be easily exploited.  The New York Times article points out that there is a "human cost" which includes long hours, punishing work, and little rest; some international regulations permit 98-hour work weeks.  Cruise line employees are a good example.  Stateroom attendants and cleaners work a minimum of 12 hours a day and often are pushed to 14 to 16 hours when required to handle luggage on embarkation days, ending up with a 90 plus hour work week and no days off.  Cruise ship cleaners earn a maximum of $545 a month working a minimum of 360 hours a month.  Repetitive injuries to these crew members frequently occur, and just as frequently the cruise lines abandon them in countries like Nicaragua or India with inadequate medical care.

Because most ship employees are non U.S. citizens, the U.S. public has been indifferent to their plight.  But the problem inherent in flags of convenience came home to the U.S. last year when the offshore Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and 11 American oil and gas workers perished.  

The U.S. Coast Guard released a preliminary report  about the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The Coast Guard criticized not only rig owner, Transocean, but the foreign registry in the Marshall Islands where Transocean registered the rig.  Just like a cruise ship, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was considered to be a vessel which had to be registered. 

Why did the rig owners decide to go all of the way to an island in the Pacific to register its oil rig, you may ask?   For the same reason cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean went to South America and Africa to register their cruise ships in Panama and Liberia - to avoid U.S. laws and oversight. 

Now Cunard, owned by Carnival whose cruise ships fly the flags of Panama, has finally followed suit by registering its three cruise ships in a rocky island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Yes, Cunard now can marry passengers at sea.  But many crewmembers will lose employment rights and victims of shipboard crime on the Cunard fleet will quickly find themselves in a no-man's land.     

 

October 20, 2011 Update:  The Cunard cruise ships will now fly the Red Ensign.  The Red Ensign Group is comprised of the United Kingdom, Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and UK Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and the Turks & Caicos Islands) which operate shipping registers. 

This will permit the ships to be referred to as "British ships" but in reality be subject to the employment laws of Bermuda. 

October 21, 2011 Update:  Cunard fans are leaving brutal comments at the Cunard facebook page about use of a flag of convenience (my comment was quickly deleted).  You can read the comments here.

Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Four days ago, I wrote about the absurdity of Bermuda sending in customs agents with sniffer dogs onto cruise ships to conduct lawless searches for pot while the cruise passengers are vacationing ashore.   Bermuda engages in warrant-less random searches of unoccupied cabins, without any semblance of probable cause, and will even instruct the cruise line employees to open up locked safes when the passengers are ashore to search for a few marijuana cigarettes. 

Why?  U.S. passengers are easy marks.  No American charged with possession of a couple of joints will risk spending a couple of months when they can spend a couple of thousands of dollars Bermuda - Cruise Ship Potand go home.  

Its easy money.    

I have written a half dozen article about this ridiculous situation.  You can read my last article here: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Well, here we go again. Bermnews reports today that yesterday a 62 year old retired U.S. physician from New Jersey was arrested for possessing 8 grams of cannabis after Bermuda customs conducted a random and warrant-less search of the Norwegian Gem.  Magistrate Wolffe fined the passenger $2,000 to be paid immediately or the retired doctor would go to jail.

The fact that the passenger had no intention of taking the pot ashore, or that the pot was for his personal use locked in a safe, were was of no concern for the judicial system in Bermuda.  

Even the local citizens in Bermuda have figured out this is a scam.  Consider these comments to the newspaper article in Bermuda:  

"I can’t believe these customs officers are searching unoccupied cabins!!! This is nuts, crazy and stupid! We are losing tourists left right and center with these unethical searches. Stop it you idiots! Go find the heroin and crack!

Good work! We managed to wait in ambush for a 62 year old retiree and take him down for possession of a little bit of ganja! God knows that old geezer was a serious threat to our very existence out here in the Atlantic Ocean! Luckily we caught him before he had the chance to strike up another spliff, because the very foundation of our society would surely have crumbled! Guess who we’ll never see in Bermuda? Anyone who knows Mr.Reisen. They’ll go to some other island.

Very well put! a tourist wanting to smoke on vacation, heaven forbid they get the munchies and actually spend money in a Bermuda restaurant.

Once again an example of the colossal waste of time that is this island’s current drug policy.  Instead of devoting resources to tracking down gangbangers who are shooting it out in broad daylight we choose to instead employ a highly trained canine unit to search every cruise ship in order to invariably uncover marginal amounts of weed, wait around for hours until the master criminal returns, arrest them, then send the few grams of weed to a technician to be examined, then employ a team of prosecutors and a judge to waste valuable court time so that we can levy a fine on a 62 year old tourist. Bravo.

Again, no witness, no injured party . . . Please Bermuda-stop the madness . . ."

October 12 2011 Update:  Senior Magistrate Warner, who has raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are legal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."  The magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a  28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot. 

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Reefer Madness - Bermuda - Cruise Ship Drug BustThe Royal Gazette reports on Bermuda busting yet another U.S. cruise ship passenger for possessing a small amount of pot for personal use. 

This incident yesterday occurred when Bermuda customs officers brought their sniffer dogs aboard the Norwegian Dawn and busted a Massachusetts passenger for 8 grams of cannabis which was located in a safe in the passenger's cabin.

Bermuda customs officials arrested the NCL passenger - who incidentally was on this three year anniversary with his wife - and hauled him in front of a local criminal magistrate who fined him $2,000.

Drug sniffer dogs + small amounts of pot + quick fines for U.S. passengers = big business in Bermuda.  Doesn't seem to be anything called probable cause or an arrest warrant on this rocky island in the middle of the Atlantic.  

Cruise ships are a major source of drug trafficking in Bermuda.  Consider this Bermuda facebook page information:

"Illegal Substances and Drug Trafficking: Crews of cruise ships and drug couriers are the major importers.  There is a zero tolerance policy in Bermuda; penalties for not complying are very harsh in Bermuda for even the smallest amount (Forbes, 2011)."

Also consider the following articles in the last year:

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts 

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug SearchesBermuda Drug Dogs - Cruise Ship Marijuana

High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness" 

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

Royal Caribbean Passengers Busted For Drugs, Taser Gun in Bermuda

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

Stay tuned.  Bermuda busts cruise passengers it seems almost weekly. 

But if a passenger or crew is raped or disappears on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship, Bermuda will never do anything.  It is too busy grabbing the easy money by busting Americans with a few joints stashed away in a safe in the cruise ship cabin.   

October 6, 2011 Update:  Cruise ship reefer madness contiues in Bermuda, another passenger with pot in a safe in the cruise ship cabin getrs busted -  Here We Go Again - Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head.

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Reefer Madness

Bottom:  REC 383/ GEOG 323 Bermuda

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda - Cruise Ship DrugsBernews reports that Bermuda Customs officials boarded the Norwegian Gem yesterday and search an unoccupied passenger cabin and seized 6 grams of pot. 

Magistrate Archie Warner, who we have blogged about before, fined the American cruise passenger $1,000 or 90 days prison if the fine was not paid immediately. 

6 grams is less than a 1/4 ounce of pot.  Something like 6 - 7 marijuana cigarettes. 

Bermuda loves busting Americans for small amounts of pot, even though the pot is in a locked cabin on the cruise ship and the passenger has no intention of taking it ashore.  Probable cause?  A warrant?  Apparently not necessary in Bermuda, at least not for cruise ships.  

Fining cruise passengers $1,000 to $3,000 is a major source of revenue for the island.  No U.S. passenger is going to sit in a jail for three months.  The customs officials and judges in Bermuda know it.  It's easy money.  Wait for the passengers to go ashore and then take the sniffer dogs from cabin to cabin when no one is there,

Last month I blogged about Magistrate Warner raising his eyebrows at these type of random, warrant-less searches.  He complained at a court hearing that it was only a matter of time before a victim of such an illegal search sued the customs officials and prosecutors for such conduct.  His concern for due process seems to be a temporary thought.

Bermuda - Pot - Cruise Ship The blog I wrote Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches was not well received by some of the citizens of Bermuda who commented on our blog.

Click on our "Drugs" category to the left.  You will see that most drug seizures are in Bermuda and involve tiny amount of marijuana for personal use.  We have written lots of articles like this, including: 

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

If you sail to Bermuda, you are free to drink like a fish on the cruise ship or in the bars ashore.  But if you sneak a little reefer on board, be prepared to be shaken down by the officials in Bermuda.  

Carnival Passenger Dies While Snorkeling Off Bermuda

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports that a 79 year old cruise passenger died on Sunday while snorkeling about one mile offshore off the West End.

The newspaper indicates that man was a US‚Äącitizen from Carnival's Fantasy cruise ship, and part of a tour group.  He was found in a “unresponsive state” in the water. 

A member of Carnival Cruise Lines "guest care team" reportedly was meeting with the victim's family. 

The comments to the article raise the issue whether the tour company had a policy in place requiring passengers to wear personal floatation devices (PFD's).

This is the second death of a cruise passenger in the waters of Bermuda recently.  In June 2011, a passenger from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas died after going on a "helmet diving" in excursion with Hartley's Bell Diving off of Bermuda.  You can read that tragedy in Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies During Diving Excursion in Bermuda

September 22, 2011 Update:

The passenger has been identified as Joe Alston.

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Yesterday the Bermuda Sun reported on two additional drugs busts involving both cruise passengers and crewmembers.

The Bermuda Sun reports that yet another cruise passenger was arrested with a small amount of marijuana in his cabin.  This arrest involved a 48 year old US tourist who was arrested after Customs officers from Bermuda entered his cabin.  The cruise passenger was present and admitted having six grams of cannabis in the cruise ship safe. Customs officers claim that Bermuda Cruise Ship Drug Bustthey searched the cabin on the Celebrity Summit in Dockyard on August 17 after receiving an unidentified "tip-off."

Earlier this week I blogged about how Bermuda raises revenue by going onto cruise ships and searching for pot when there is no intention of the passengers taking it ashore.  A senior Magistrate questioned the legality of conducting random, warrant-less searches with no probable cause, as I mentioned in my article: Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Archibald Warner, who we reported on above questioning the legality of warrant-less random searches, nonetheless fined the passenger $1,000.

The Bermuda Sun also reported that  a crewmember from the Holland America Line (HAL) Veendam cruise ship was arrested on drugs charges.  Crewmember Dhimas Pradiptar allegedly conspired with unidentified "others" to bring approximately 340g of cannabis to Bermuda for purposes of selling the pot.

He pleaded not guilty and was released on $15,000 bail. He is scheduled to reappear at Magistrates’ Court on November 17th.

For more news on Bermuda and pot, don't forget to read: High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"

Busted in Bermuda - Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

This year we have been reporting on the high number of arrests by the Bermuda customs officials of cruise ship passengers for small amounts of marijuana. 

A Pattern of Invading Cruise Cabins and Shaking U.S. Passengers Down for Money 

Bermuda Flag - Drug BustsAll of the cases fit into a pattern. 

After the cruise ship arrives in port, the passenger leave their cabins and go ashore for sightseeing or to purchase souvenirs from the local vendors in port.  While the passengers are ashore, the Bermuda customs officers will board the cruise ship with sniffer dogs and sneak into the passengers' cabins with the drug dogs.  If they find pot, usually in an amount for 6-8 cigarettes or so, they will wait for the passenger to return to the cruise ship and arrest them.  They will then haul the passengers ashore and jail them. 

When the case is finally called, the Magistrate will lecture them and give them the option of 30 to 50 days in jail or paying a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 and leave the country.  The passengers always pay the money and then fly back to the U.S rather than spend a month or two in jail.

In none of the cases we have reported on has there been a search warrant to enter the cabin.  Nor has there there been any indication that the customs officers had probable cause to invade the private cabins of the passengers.    

You can read about the individual cases in our articles:  Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!, Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling and High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"   The press in Bermuda loves to cover these cases and identify the U.S.passengers and even photograph them, as you can read about here.   

I have always scratched my head reading about these shake downs.  Why don't the defense lawyers move to dismiss the charges because the pot was seized after an illegal entry where there was no probable cause to enter the private cabins nor did the authorities bother to obtain a search warrant?  In the U.S., a case like this would be thrown out in a New York second and the prosecution chastised.

Does Bermuda's Constitution Prohibit Illegal Search and Seizures? 

Cruise Ship Drugs - BermudaWhen I was 15 years old and taking my first constitutional law course (yes, my parents sent me to a great prep school), I read for the first time something called the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Does Bermuda have a similar provision in a constitution to protect its people from random searches and seizures by the police?

This morning, I seem to have found my answer while reading an article in the BDA Sun last Friday entitled "Cruise Passengers Fined for Cannabis After 'Unconstitutional' Search."

The article covers the story of two women in their fifties from New York who went ashore to visit the sights in Bermuda after the Norwegian Jade cruise arrived in port.  The customs officers entered the cabin the women shared without their knowledge or permission, and without a search warrant or good reason.  They found eight grams of cannabis.  That's about enough weed for ten cigarettes.   

The customs officers arrested the two women and took them to jail.  They were booked for importing the weed into Bermuda, even though they went ashore without the pot and had no intention of taking it ashore and even though the customs officers had to go onto the ship, trespass the ladies' private cabin and root around to find it.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner - Bermuda - Cruise Pot"It's Only A Matter of Time Before You All Get Sued"

The newspaper reports that Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner (photo left) fined the two ladies $1,000 each but he did not appear to be particularly happy about doing so.  Here is the exchange between the Magistrate and the prosecution taken verbatim from the local newspaper:

“I see on all these summaries of evidence that customs officers are carrying out random searches on people’s rooms."

“Who told customs officers they can carry out random searches?”

Crown counsel Tawana Tannock told Mr. Warner she wasn’t instructed on that question.

Mr. Warner then said: “Can the police or customs just go in anybody’s room whether hotel or ship and search them?”

Ms. Tannock said: “I can’t speak to that.”

The magistrate replied: “Like a hotel room or somebody’s house, people pay good money for the cruise room."

“So you all may be looking to get sued."

“I mean, if they’re guilty, they’re guilty by the fine for the simple possession is $1,000.”

The Magistrate told Ms. Tannock customs officers should consider or reconsider the search method.

Mr. Warner continued: “I can tell you that there is no such provision giving anybody such authority."

NCL Cruise Ship - Drug Bust - Bermuda“It’s unconstitutional, it would be unconstitutional."

“It’s only a matter of time before you all get sued.”

Bermuda has probably netted $100,000 playing this monkey game with cruise passengers over the past several years.  Are there any competent criminal defense lawyers who can take a hint from Senior Magistrate Warner and raise a peremptory challenge to these type of illegal search and seizures?  

Are there any independent advocates on the island willing to sue the customs officials and prosecutors for what is patently an ongoing unlawful scheme to threaten cruise passengers with jail time in order to reach into their pockets for money?  

August 19, 2011 Update:

The Bermuda Sun reports that a 48 year old US tourist after Customs officers from Bermuda entered his cabin.  The cruise passenger was present and admitted having six grams of cannabis in the cruise ship safe. Customs officers claim that they searched the cabin on the Celebrity Summit in Dockyard on August 17 after receiving an unidentified "tip-off."

Magistrate Archibald Warner, who we reported on above questioning the legality of warrantless random searches, fined the passenger $1,000.

 

High Times on the High Seas - Cruise Industry Struggles with "Reefer Madness"

The cruise industry is struggling with its own form of "reefer madness" over the last month.  Here's what has been happening in the weird world of cruise ship pot heads, dealers and smugglers.  

Bermuda Bust No. 1:   Earlier this week, customs agents in Bermuda arrested two Royal Caribbean crewmembers for importing cocaine into the islands on a cruise ship. 

Reefer Madness - Cruise Ship DrugsBernews reported that two Royal Caribbean crewmembers were charged with importing 200 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of just over $52,000 last week.

35 year old Clarence James, from St. Vincent, pleaded guilty to importing and conspiring to import after he was caught with the drugs in the soles of his shoes.  He initially claimed that another Royal Caribbean crewmember, 36 year old Jamaican Delroy Duncan, gave him the shoes to wear and he did not know that there were drugs in them.  Later, he claimed that Mr. Duncan told him to smuggle the drugs ashore.  Mr. Duncan denies he gave him drugs to take off the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean employed Mr. James as a bartender and Mr. Duncan as a utility cleaner. 

Royal Caribbean has been in the news quite a bit in the last eight months with crew drug busts on the Explorer of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, and the Enchantment of the Seas.

Bermuda Bust No. 2:   The BDA Sun reports that two U.S. passenger were arrested on the Norwegian Jade when Bermuda police conducted random searched on the cruise ship while passengers were ashore.   They were sharing a cabin and had eight grams of pot. 

Bermuda Bust No. 3:  The BDA Sun also reports that last month a U.S. cruise passenger  from Connecticut was fined $800 for a small amount of pot which the Bermuda police obtained after searching the Celebrity Summit.  The police conducted random searches of passenger cabins with a sniffer dog.

Bermuda Bust No. 4:   The authorities in Bermuda arrested a 39 year old cruise tourist from New Jersey last month as well.   A sniffer dog found 13 cannabis cigarettes in the passenger's bedside table on board Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.  The BDA Sun indicates that the passenger left the island after paying $3,000.

The authorities in Bermuda seemed skilled at violating the rights of cruise passenger by entering cabins without any pretense of probable cause to look for small amounts of pot.  I wonder if citizens in Bermuda have the right against unlawful searches and seizures?    

St. Thomas:   A Royal Caribbean passenger, Steven Barry Krumholz, recently admitted selling large quantities of ecstasy, methamphetamine and ketamine to fellow passengers during a cruise on board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas during what was billed as the largest gay cruise in the world last February.  He had $51,000 on him when arrested.  

We blogged about the incident - Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  It was one of the most read articles ever on Cruise Law News with around 270 people "liking" it on facebook or tweeting it on Twitter. 

Federal Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez set sentencing for November 2nd.  Unlike the passengers who were caught with a couple of joints, Mr. Krumholz is in a world of trouble.  The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Reefer Madness - Cruise Ship DrugsMiami:   Perhaps the highest profile cruise related drug bust was last week when U.S. Customs officers arrested rapper "Big Boi," of the hip-hop duo "OutKast," on drug possession charges as he disembarked a cruise ship.  You can see his mugs shots here.  Seems like Big Boi or members of his posse like ecstasy and Viagra which is a crime to possess without a prescription. 

But unlike Bermuda where the customs officer entered passengers with dogs looking for drugs, in Miami the K-9 sniffer dogs got him after he left the cruise ship and was in the terminal. 

The interesting thing about all of these cases is that none of the drugs were found by the cruise line.  It makes you wonder about cruise ship security, doesn't it?  It seems easy to smuggle drugs past the shipboard security. The cruise ship security seem to be experts in confiscating your bottle of Chardonnay in your suitcase to keep liquor sales up for the revenue department.  But they don't seem interested in your reefer. 

The port authorities, especially in Bermuda, are a different matter.  They love to bust Americans, particularly U.S. passengers with just a quarter ounce of pot back in the cabin for personal use.  

God forbid that a stoned cruise passenger enter the port and wander around eating brownies and a big bag of Doritos.  

Are You a Stoner? Don't Cruise to Bermuda!

The cops in Bermuda love to bust American tourists with small amounts of pot, even if the pot never leaves the cruise ship. 

In April, I wrote an article about Bermudan customs officers and police who boarded a cruise ship with a drug sniffing dog and found seven homemade cigarettes in the passenger cabin's safe.  The cruise passenger was fined $3,000.  The newspapers in Bermuda are quick to identify the names and ages of the American tourists and photograph them, but they avoid mentioning the name of the cruise ship or cruise line, issues I talked about in my blog The Bermuda Press and the Cruise Industry - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.

Cheech and Chong - Reefer - Up In SmokeIn October 2009, a cruise passenger was busted for pot when a Bermudan 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 pled guilty to importing drugs into Bermuda, which is difficult to understand because the joints were discovered in the passenger's luggage inside his cabin on the cruise ship.

In May of 2010, two cruise passengers were arrested by Bermudan police officers who boarded the cruise ship and searched the ladies' cabin. They found a plastic bag with 6.68 grams of cannabis. The Court in Bermuda fined them $500 each for possessing marijuana, even though it was for their personal use and they did not try to bring the reefer ashore.

Well, the Bermudan authorities have now stepped enforcement up.  They have been enjoying a field day in the last month arresting Americans with small amounts of pot.

The Sun newspaper in Bermuda reports last week that a cruise passenger from a cruise ship (the newspaper chose not to mention its name) was fined $2,500 for possessing 10 grams of cannabis.  Bermudan customs officers boarded the ship and found a small bag of pot and partially smoked cigarettes.

Arguing to a court in Bermuda that the pot is for medicinal purposes will make the matter worse, as two American women learned in separate incidents. 

According to the Sun newspaper, Teresa Sheridan, 53, of Oregon was arrested last month at the airport in Bermuda when customs officials found a bag with just three grams of cannabis.  She claimed that she smoked pot as treatment for depression.  The court was not impressed and imposed a fine of $2,000.   

A worst fate met U.S. tourist Edith Lord Wolffe, 59, who was also arrested last month at the airport in Bermuda.  Customs officials found 14 homemade marijuana cigarettes in her luggage. 

Her lawyer argued for leniency.  Ms. Wolffe was from California where pot has been de-criminalized.  She smokes marijuana for her Ménière's disease.  The lawyer informed the court that she has a prescription for the marijuana from her doctor as she suffers from the chronic illness.  He presented the court with a copy of a medical certificate with the illness and prescription outlined on it to treat the medical condition.  According to the Sun newspaper, the court responded:  “I am of the view that this matter calls for an immediate custodial sentence.”  The court fined Ms. Wolffe $3,000 plus 30 days in jail.

Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities.  It has a pitiful record investigating the disappearances of crew members or prosecuting violent crimes, such as rape, on Bermuda flagged cruise ships, as we have written about before.  If you are a sexual predator on a Bermudan flagged ship, no policeman from Bermuda will ever bother you. 

But if you are a stoner who cruises to Bermuda and have a few joints stashed back on the cruise ship in your luggage, prepared to be arrested, fined and perhaps incarcerated. 

And don't tell the judge that pot is legal in California and you get high for medical reasons . . .   

 

June 27, 2011 Update:  The Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a "cruise ship drug smuggler" was sentenced to two and one-half years in prison for delivering "cannabis residue" to Bermuda and collecting $7,000.  His companion was fined $1,000.  As usual, this newspaper did not mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Cruise Passenger and Crew Members Assaulted in Bermuda

A post by a cruiser on a CruiseCritic forum yesterday indicates that a cruise passenger visiting Bermuda was assaulted and battered in an attempted robbery last week.

One June 14th, a passenger from the NCL Dawn cruise ship was walking back to the ship around 4:00 p.m. from Snorkel Beach on what is described as a "relatively well traveled walkway in front of the main entrance to the Maritime Museum." 

Bermuda Cruise CrimeA Bermudian man punched the passenger in the face, knocking him to the ground and then began to search through the passenger's pockets.  The passenger fought back and then fled back to the cruise ship where he reported the incident to security personnel and customs agents. Bermudian police reportedly stated that such attacks have become more frequent  in recent years.

On June 8th, the BDA Sun reported that two NCL crewmembers from the Dawn were assaulted early in the morning in Snorkel Park and one of the crewmembers required medical treatment in a hospital.

The newspaper then published an article about the fracas entitled Warning of Tourism Fallout after Fight.   Snorkel Park chief Tom Steinhoff is quoted as saying: "Behaviour like this threatens further investment in Bermuda and threatens Bermuda tourism – we are going to do everything we can to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again."

On May 31, 2011, the Royal Gazette newspaper reported on the attacks of two cruise tourists in an article entitled "Man Admits Attack on Cruise Ship Visitors."  A Bermudan man admitted attacking two cruise tourists with a piece of metal pipe in a public bathroom in Par-la-Ville Park.  As usual, the newspaper did not mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.

Last week's violent assault and battery of a cruise passenger is not going to help the island's reputation.

The Bermuda Police have an online website which contains "daily reports" of crime.  Although there is an online account of the earlier incident involving the crewmembers, there is no mention of the assault of the cruise passenger last week.

Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Bermuda has long enjoyed a reputation for being a generally safe destination (the exception being the brutal rape and death of a young Canadian tourist Rebecca Middleton and the incompetence of the Bermudian authorities which followed). 

Are crimes against cruise passengers and crew a problem in Bermuda?    

 

June 22, 2011 Update:

Cruise Critic has an interesting article about this incident.  The police in Bermuda are claiming that this was no random act of violence but rather a "drug deal gone wrong."  The police do not deny that the passenger was injured.  Rather they are saying that the alleged drug transaction led to the violence. 

I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.  It seems to raise the issue whether Bermuda may have a problem with drugs as well as violent crime. 

The article is entitled "Bermuda Police Debunk Alleged Attack on Cruise Ship Passenger." 

June 23, 2011 Update:

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda is finally covering the story - "Alleged Robbery was Drug Deal Gone Bad Govt."
 

Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies During Diving Excursion in Bermuda

The BDA Sun newspaper in Bermuda is reporting that a 52 year-old cruise passenger died during a diving excursion in Bermuda.

Donna Zapata cruised with her husband on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas to BermudaShe went on what is described as a "helmet diving" excursion with Hartley's Bell Diving.  The newspaper explains that this involves "shallow water where divers wear airtight helmets to view the underwater world." 

After a dive, Ms. Zapata complained of shortness of breath.  She reportedly was given oxygen aboard the excursion vessel and the excursion staff called shore-side for emergency medical personnel to be ready ashore.  But its reportedly took "about 20 minutes to get everyone back on board and get to shore." 

Ms. Zapata lost consciousness and passed away at the King Edward VII Hospital.

The Bermuda Police Service has the following account:

"Police have commenced an investigation into the death of an American woman who was visiting the island as a cruise ship passenger. It appears that around 12 noon on Tuesday, June 7th 52 year old Donna Zapata was in the Mangrove Bay area ‘helmet diving’ with family members when she got into difficulty. EMTs performed CPR as the victim was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital via ambulance; however they were unable to revive her. She was subsequently pronounced dead at 1pm on Tuesday by an on call physician at the hospital. An autopsy will be performed on the deceased during the course of this week."

The Bermuda Press and the Cruise Industry - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Yesterday, the Bermuda Gazette reported on the sentencing of an American tourist who was arrested for possessing pot on a cruise ship which ported in Bermuda.

The Gazette identified the passenger as 43-year-old Edward John Molinari, from New York.  The newspaper reported that after the cruise ship arrived in Bermuda, customs officers and police searched Molinari’s cabin with a drug sniffing dog and "found seven homemade cigarettes in the room’s safe, plus a partially-smoked eighth, containing cannabis of an estimated street value of $178."

John Molinari - Bermuda - Pot The other major newspaper in Bermuda, the Bermuda Sun, also reported on the petty drug offense and mentioned that Mr. Molinari was married with three children.  The Sun included a photograph of Mr. Molinari taken by a photographer camped outside of the courthouse.    

Neither the Gazette nor the Sun mentioned the name of the cruise line, and the Gazette did not mention the name of the cruise ship either.  Why not?  Was it because Mr. Molinari informed the Bermuda judge that that cannabis had been in use “all over the boat?” 

I have been critical of the press in Bermuda in general, and the Royal Gazette in particular, for not mentioning the names of cruise lines when the stories include embarrassing facts like drugs and crimes on the cruise ships.

For example, the Bermuda Gazette recently covered a trial in Bermuda involving allegations that a crew member raped another cruise line employee.   We covered the incident and of course mentioned the names of the cruise line and cruise ship.  We tried to place the incident into context by mentioning this cruise line's history of similar alleged crimes on its fleet of cruise ships.

The Gazette, however, choose not to mention the name of the cruise line (Princess Cruises) or the name of the cruise ship (Caribbean Princess).  Was this because Princess Cruises incorporated itself in Bermuda and registered its cruise ship there in order to enjoy that country's lax safety regulations and minimal taxes?  Is the Bermuda press extending the same courtesy of "looking the other way" routinely extended by the Bermuda vessel registry and incorporation officials?  The Gazette claims that it decided not to mention the cruise line or cruise ship in order to protect the identity of the alleged rape victim and defendant.  That seems like quite a stretch.  But assuming that to be true, why did the Gazette decide not to mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship which allegedly had drug use "all over the boat?"

When you search the Bermuda Gazette's archives, you will find that while it is quick to identify U.S. passengers caught with small amounts of pot on cruise ships, it will not publish anything potentially embarrassing about the cruise lines.     

The island is very strict when it comes to prosecuting U.S. passengers.  Bermuda will bust U.S. passengers for minor drug possession on cruise ships porting in Bermuda even if its clear that Angelo Faliva - Disappearance - Bermuda Flag of Conveniencethe pot is for the passenger's personal use and the pot never leaves the cruise ship.  And the newspapers in Bermuda love reporting about such minor offenses. 

But Bermuda does a deplorable job investigating violent crimes or mysterious disappearances which may implicate cruise ships which fly the flag of Bermuda.  You will see no real journalism by the Bermuda newspapers into the issues of cruise ship crime, pollution, exploitation of crew members and tax avoidance.  Take a moment and read about Bermuda's indifference to crimes on Bermuda flagged cruise ships.

For example when Italian crew member Angelo Faliva disappeared from the Bermuda flagged Princess cruise ship the Coral Princess, Bermuda eventually conducted a dilatory and unmotivated "investigation" which quickly ended without any answers and no criticism of the cruise line.  The Royal Gazette and other newspapers in Bermuda completely ignored the Faliva family's plight.

The Angelo Faliva disappearance demonstrates the fundamental corruptness of incorporating cruise lines in remote islands and flying flags of convenience of countries with a non-existent regulatory scheme and a press which acts like a cruise line PR department.  Disappearances often go un-reported, un-investigated, and un-prosecuted because of the indifference of the flag countries and the desire of the image-obsessed cruise lines to sweep the problem under the rug.

Independent newspapers with integrity keep large corporations like the cruise lines honest. 

But newspapers like the Bermuda Gazette are a different story.  If you are a passenger caught with some reefer in a safe in your cabin on a cruise ship docked in Bermuda, be prepared to have your name and photograph appear on the front page of the Bermuda newspapers.  But if you are a cruise line with a history of pollution and shipboard crimes, don't worry - the newspapers in Bermuda will be certain never to mention you.  

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Edward Molinari leaving courthouse, photo by Kageaki Smith via Bermuda Sun

Bottom:  Angelo Faliva, courtesy of the Faliva family

Royal Caribbean Passengers Busted For Drugs, Taser Gun in Bermuda

The Royal Gazette newspaper reports that the police in Bermuda arrested two American cruise passengers for a small amount of pot and a Taser gun in their cruise ship cabin. 

Passengers Virginians Kymberly Taylor and Shayla Reid were sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  After the cruise ship arrived in Bermuda, police officers boarded the cruise ship and searched the ladies' cabin.  They found a plastic bag with 6.68 grams of cannabis and a five-inch Taser gun.

The Court in Bermuda fined them $500 each for possessing marijuana, even though it was for their personal use and they did not try to bring the reefer ashore.  Ms. Taylor received an additional $1,000 fine for possession of the Taser gun.

We have reported on drug arrests in Bermuda before.  The island is very strict when it comes to prosecuting U.S. passengers.

Ironically, Bermuda does a deplorable job investigating violent crimes or mysterious disappearances which may implicate cruise ships which fly the flag of Bermuda.  But Bermuda loves busting U.S. passenger for minor drug possession on cruise ships porting in Bermuda.  Take a moment and read about Bermuda's indifference to crimes on Bermuda flagged cruise ships.

The more serious issue is the Taser gun in the cabin.  Its disturbing that the cruise line's security did not detect it. 

 

Interested in this issue?  Consider reading: Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling  

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Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

The Italian press continues to closely follow the story of Angelo Faliva who "disappeared" on November 25, 2009 from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, which is headquartered in Santa-Clarita, California.   

Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - Disappearance  It is now two months after the unexplained loss of young Mr. Faliva.  His family continues to seek clues regarding what really happened to their son and brother.

Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper explains that the Bermuda police just notified the Faliva family via email that they have not even looked at the data on Mr. Faliva's three mobile telephones, camera or laptop because they are "very busy" with other matters.  

The cruise line apparently told the family that the hundreds of surveillance cameras "didn't show anything," which is implausible but exactly what cruise lines say unless the cameras exonerate them.  It is unknown whether Bermuda has bothered to look at the surveillance tapes.  A lot of times, the police will just parrot what the cruise lines tell them to say.    

Princess cruise ships fly the flag of Bermuda which is suppose to investigate crimes and disappearances on Bermuda flagged vessels. Unfortunately, what is happening to the Faliva family demonstrates the real attitude of Bermuda. Cruise lines like Princess register their cruise ship in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes and safety and labor regulations - not because Bermuda has a reputation of vigorously investigating and solving crimes.

The article mentions that Angelo's sister, Chiara Faliva, has not lost hope and continues to patiently wait for answers.  She has created a Facebook page to help the family finds answers. She is trying to involve the Italian Foreign Minister and the local prosecutors in the city of Cremona in Northern Italy where the Faliva family lives. 

Chiara Faliva has thousands of questions, such as why has no one interviewed the passengers in the Sabbatini's restaurant on the cruise ship where Mr. Faliva worked?  Was the list of Bermuda Flag - Princess Cruises - Flag of Convenience passengers destroyed?  Ms. Faliva apparently had an argument with another crew member earlier and a warning had been issued and then later rescinded.  Did Mr. Faliva see something he should not have, such as drug smuggling - which we have written about: "Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling."       

This story underscores the difficulties which families face when they lose a loved on on a foreign flagged cruise ship.  Princess' s corporate headquarters are in California.  The Faliva family is in Italy.  And the so-called investigators in Bermuda are, well, in Bermuda and waited ten days before traveling to the cruise ship. 

The cruise line's internal investigation is designed to protect the cruise line's reputation and legal interests at the expense of the truth.  And the "investigators" of the flag country?  Unmotivated.  Disinterested.  Beholden to the cruise line which pays them.  These are the conclusions which come to my mind. 

The Il Messaggero article mentions being "neither dead nor alive."  It is less than clear whether the article is referring to Mr. Faliva and the uncertainty surrounding his disappearance - or to his sister who is forced to live in a state of limbo looking for answers.  

 

 

 

If you wish to follow this story or other stories on this blog via email updates, please subscribe by typing your email at the left or signing up for a RSS feed,

To learn more about Angelo Faliva's "disappearance" on Princess Cruises' Coral Princess, please consider reading:   

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship

Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Update: Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva - What Say You, Master Mariano Manfuso?

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

 

Credits:

Photograph                     LA7.it

Video                                Video Mediaset.it

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

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. 

Drug smuggling - cruise shipsU.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.

Drugs on cruise ships 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.