Assault With Knife Lands Royal Caribbean Crew Member in Jail

A Royal Caribbean galley worker who attacked a supervisor in May of this year on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge William Martini sentenced Donny Martin Crisanto, age 31, of Nicaragua, during a court appearance in Newark, New Jersey. 

Cristano had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the supervisor on May 4 while working in the galley of Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship which sails out of Bayonne, N.J. to Bermuda and the Bahamas. 

Donny Crisanto - Royal Caribbean Crew MemberThe U.S. Attorney's Office released the following statement:

A Nicaraguan national who admitted to stabbing his supervisor aboard a cruise ship in international waters was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Donny Martin Crisanto, 31, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an Information charging him with knowingly and intentionally assaulting another with a dangerous weapon, with intent to do bodily harm, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements in court:

On May 4, 2012, Crisanto was working as a galley utility employee aboard the Royal Caribbean International, Explorer of the Seas cruise ship, which was operating within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Crisanto was inside the ship kitchen, when he assaulted his supervisor, identified only by the initials “M.S.,” the head kitchen steward, with a dangerous weapon. After an earlier work dispute Crisanto approached M.S. from behind and, not acting in self-defense, Crisanto struck M.S. in the forehead and shoulder with a knife.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Crisanto to one year of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, in Newark, and Royal Caribbean, Explorer of the Seas ship security officers, with the investigation that resulted in the sentence. 

Violence on Carnival's Freedom Reveals Need for Independent Law Enforcement

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention today a disturbing story found in a cruise review on Cruise Critic. It's written by the mother of four sons who were sailing with a group of seven on the Carnival Freedom this month. 

The review is titled Anarchy on the Freedom.  Take a moment and read it. Mom's two oldest sons, age 22 and 19, were taunted in a nightclub and then viciously assaulted and beaten while they were trying to leave, by an adult and a group of teenagers. The older boy was "was attacked from behind, his hands held behind his back, struck several times on the head and ribs, kicked and then tossed down a flight of stairs . . . "

But Mom was not just concerned that her children were physically beaten but by the way that Carnival treated them afterward.  She was given the run-around, lied to by security, refused the names of the assailants, denied a copy of the security report and told that there were no surveillance video.  Her Fight Aboard Carnival Freedom Cruise Shipoptions were to either hire a lawyer or contact the FBI - neither particularly attractive options I am sure. 

As outrageous as all of this sounds, this is the usual outcome when there is a brawl on a Carnival cruise ship.    

I have attended seven Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. regarding cruise ship safety issues since December 2005. One of the recurring issues discussed before Congress is crime and the cruise lines' failure to respond to the problem.

Yes, you can have an awful lot of fun on a cruise.  But there is no denying that crime occurs on cruise ships. The difference between land based crimes and shipboard crimes is that there is no sense of accountability on cruise ships. Lawlessness prevails.  

The cruise industry states that the "safety of cruise passengers is its highest priority," but that is not remotely true. If you are a victim of a rape or a violent physical assault and battery during a cruise, there is well over a 95% probability that your assailant will not be arrested or prosecuted.  

This is because there are no police officers or sheriff deputies on the high seas. The FBI technically has jurisdiction to investigate crimes involving Americans on cruise ships, even though the ships fly foreign flags of convenience and even when the crimes occur in international waters. But the truth of the matter is that the FBI is not interested in crimes on cruise ships.  Fewer than 5% of cruise ship crimes are ever prosecuted by our federal government.

This leaves the matter of crimes in the hands of the cruise ship security personnel.  Their job, however, is not to arrest anyone but to try and keep a lid on the problem until the cruise ship returns to port where they can get the warring  parties off the ship and then re-rack for another 7 day drunken cruise to Mexico.  

The International Cruise Victims organization has suggested that a law be passed requiring independent law enforcement officers aboard cruise ships, to investigate crimes and hold the bad guys accountable. The cruise lines have fought this vigorously.

The result is what unfolded this month on the Carnival Freedom.  

 

For other stories like this, consider reading:

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Out of Control Cruise Ship Drinking & Violence

16 Brawling Passengers Kicked Off P&O Cruises' Pacific Dawn

A newspaper in Australia is reporting that 16 cruise passengers, with ages between 18 and 23, were booted off the P & O Cruises' Pacific Dawn cruise ship for fighting.  

The incident occurred late at night, with some newspaper accounts suggesting that the men were intoxicated and fighting over a woman. 

The Observer reports that one of the passengers was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a female crew member.  The newspaper quotes one of the rowdy passengers stating: "We got PO Cruises Pacific Dawn Brawlkicked off because we were having too much fun . . . It was awesome." 

Outbreaks of fights like this are one of the occurrences which mar the cruising experience.  How often these incidents occur is subject to debate.  Recently, 20/20 aired a cruise expose which showed lots of YouTube videos of cruise drunks and out-of-control brawls.  Many travel agents and cruise fans were upset with what they thought was a sensationalist television program.  

We have looked into the problem of too much booze and fights on cruises over the last few years in our articles:

Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

If you were on the cruise and have photos or video of the brawl, please leave a comment below. 

  

Photo credit:  Christopher Cahn / Observer

ABC's 20/20 Covers Costa Concordia Disaster (Part 2) Plus Out of Control Cruise Ship Drinking & Violence

ABC Film Crew at Port of Miami - ABC 20/20 - Cruise Ship Drinking and ViolenceLast night ABC News aired a cruise ship special on its 20/20 program about the Costa Concordia disaster.  Narrated by Chris Cuomo from Italy, the one hour program contains an inside look at this latest cruise ship disaster based on interviews with surviving passengers.

You can watch the first segment of the show, which focuses on details of the cruise disaster, here

The 20/20 program also took a hard look at the problem with excessive drinking during cruises.  I learned a new phrase last night, of being "cruise-ship drunk."  You will see lots of videos of passengers being "knee-walking" or "fall-down" drunk.  Not a pretty sight.

The show correctly points out that there is a direct correlation between excessive drinking and violence, which is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to push the sale of booze, the insufficient number of security guards, and the absence of an independent police force.  We looked into these problems over the last few years in our articles:

Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Cruise Refunds and a Drunken Backstreet Boy?

Latest Royal Caribbean Rape Allegation Reveals Problem of Underage Drinking on Cruises

Carnival Murder Case Reveals Out of Control Cruise Booze

The 20/20 program includes a few clips of me at the port of Miami explaining the problems of cruise ship drinking and violence.

The segment below is about 5 and 1/2 minutes:  

 

 

Watch the entire 20/20 "cruise confidential" program here.

Video credit:  ABC NEWS / ABC 20/20

Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say

Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie contains disturbing comments from a cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship who reports that on December 15th during a sailing to the Mexican Riviera a gruesome physical altercation took place in cabin 1306.

Here are the comments:

Carnival Cruise Violence - Cruise Ship"Wild, out-of-control alcohol-fueled domestic fight - starts at 9PM, escalates to most certainly a felony assault (or worse) by 3AM. All kinds of yelling, screaming, howling.  Objects (victim?) thrown against the walls. Finally security responds; victim has blood streaming from her, multiple wounds; others report seeing multiple pools of blood in the room. Around 3:45 AM, Carnival removes the 'guests' and immediately starts the process of cleaning the room up, starting with the blood. 

NO attempt whatsoever to preserve the scene or the evidence.  Staff members will not discuss what happened other than 'it's under control' and 'he won't be a problem.'  Rumor is that the offender was removed from the ship in Puerto Vallarta."

We reached out to Carnival's PR department yesterday who said they would check it out, but no response so far.

It's disturbing to read an account like this particularly after we just reported that a drunken Carnival passenger who beat and strangled his wife to death was sentenced to life in prison.  And should there be any doubt that cruise lines destroy crime scene evidence?  

Does anyone on this cruise have additional information?  Please leave a comment below.

December 21, 2011 Update:  This article was picked up by the popular Cruise Critic online community and posted in a thread on the message board.  How did the concerned Cruise Critic cruise fans react to the bloody crime scene and Carnival's spoliation of evidence? 

Read their comments like  "Doesn't affect me . . .  Who cares . . . Ship happens" which you can read here.  Unfortunately, this type of complacency perpetuates the sorry state of affairs on cruise ships where cruise lines destroy evidence knowing that their fan base doesn't care. 

I think I'll re-name this article "Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say and Cruise Fans Don't Care."

Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas: Is it Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Violence Cabo San Lucas - MexicoNew sources report today that hundreds of people cowered for hours inside a shopping mall in the resort town of Cabo San Lucas today while security forces traded gunfire with armed criminals at the Plaza Sendero shopping center.

A local newspaper in Mexico, Milenio, reports that 12 men armed with high powered rifles (AK-47's), were traveling in three vans (other articles say 3 - 4 men).  When they were observed by police, they retreated into a store at the mall. They were suspected of killing a marine the night before.  There are conflicting stories whether they held 200 of the 600 shoppers hostage.  After a shoot out, three men were arrested according to Borderland Beat.  

This dangerous event occurred after cruise lines like Princess Cruises, its parent company Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line pulled out of Mexican ports such as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the last few months because of fears of violence.

Is it safe to cruise to Mexico when places like Cabo San Lucas turn into a scene from the Wild West?

You can see the gun battle and arrests in the video below:

 

 

October 29, 2011 Update:  The incident may be related to another gun fight broke out late on the night of October 28, 2011 between 11:00 PM and 3:00 AM in Cabo San Lucas "between Mexican military and assumed narco trafficantes."  One soldier and a gunman are dead and two police officers are seriously injured.  A video of the nighttime shooting is below: 

 

 

Video credits: Top - TheRasek79 (YouTube); bottom - BajaWhistleBlower (YouTube)

Photo credits:  Pat Garcia / La Paz, Mexico

October 30, 2011 Update:  Photographs are emerging of the criminals holding hostages (above) and the military responding to the situation (below).  Photos courtesy of Now Public / Pat Garcia, La Paz, Mexico. 

Cabo San Lucas - Crime - MexicoFor other articles about crime in Mexico:

U.S. Travel Warnings to Mexico

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Tells Princess Cruises: "We're Safer Than Your Cruise Ships!"

Frommer's Is it Safe to Travel to Los Cabos? 

LA Times: Mexico Woos Tourists as U.S. Advises Travelers to Avoid Parts of the Violence-Plagued Country

Fox News: Cruise Ships Avoid Mazatlán Due to Crimes Targeting Tourists 

Cabo San Lucas Heats Up

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Last year I wrote a blog entitled "Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships" addressing the increasing violence on cruise ships.  I posted the following comments and questions: 

"Complicating matters is the huge amount of alcohol which the cruise lines sell to the passengers, which often leads to drunken brawls in the bars and discos and sometimes around the pools. It will be interesting to see how Carnival and the other cruise lines handle the "wider audience" flocking onto the larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," what steps are they taking to protect U.S. families?

Will the cruise lines elect to hire a full complement of well trained and experienced Carnival Cruise Ship - Violence - Alcoholsecurity guards?  Or will they continue to try and save money with only 2 or 3 inexperienced "guards" trying to protect 2,000 or 3,000 passengers?"

Well, the answers to these questions may be found in YouTube videos which have surfaced regarding a brawl which broke out in the Caliente Club on Carnival's Dream cruise ship three weeks ago.

The August 12th fight was widely reported by the news media, including Professor's Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie which contained the following account from a passenger: 

"We were on the Carnival Dream sailing 08/07 to 08/14 and heard that a brawl broke out in the dance club around 3:00 a.m. on the morning of the 12th. We heard from passengers and a bartender that the brawl started over a song. It involved so many young people (men and women) that the security on board was unable to handle everyone and had to call in assistance from wait staff and other crew members. The fight spilled over into the art gallery located next door and apparently a $10K painting was ruined with blood spatter. Flat screen tvs were smashed and there was a lot of damage done. We heard that people on the ground were getting kicked in the head by men and women and that one person needed to be revived because he was hurt so badly. We also heard that the crowd spilled out of the dance club and that innocent people were getting punched in the face as they were walking by.

The next morning in Costa Maya there were a bunch of people (10 people) sitting by the side of the ship with all of their luggage as they were kicked off the ship and their relatives were shipped off to Mexican jails. Carnival needs to learn a lesson here and not serve alcohol after a certain time and perhaps shut down the 18+ dance club before 3:00 a.m. Nothing good can come of drunk teenagers at 3:00 in the morning."

An article in Florida Today "10 Cruise Passengers Evicted After Brawl" contained a rather understated PR statement by Carnival:

"A fight occurred on the vessel. It was broken up by ship's security and the cause of the fight was investigated which resulted in 10 guests being disembarked in Mexico . . .  The safety and security of our guests and crew is of utmost importance and we will not tolerate behavior that could put any of them at risk."

Carnival has a problem with way too much alcohol served on their cruise ships and way too few security guards to handle the unruly drunks.  Here are two videos of the fight.  

 

 

 

 

 

Video credits:    i008 YouTube

Photo credit:      Szymek S.'s Flickr photostream