New Zealand Passenger Missing From Celebrity Solstice

A newspaper in New Zealand reports that a passenger, identified only as a man from Dunedin, New Zealand, is missing from the Celebrity Cruises' Solstice cruise ship which left Port Chalmers, New Zealand today. 

It is less than clear whether the man disembarked from the cruise ship, leaving items, including his passport, on board, and didn't return. Or whether he disappeared at some earlier time while the cruise ship was sailing. 

The article does not state when the man was last seen. It should be easy to determine whether the Celebrity Solstice Cruise Ship passenger used his sea pass card which should have been scanned when he boarded or disembarked the cruise ship.  Unfortunately, this does not always occur.

In another case, American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship last year. She disappeared.  Police in Canada speculate that Ms. Powell may have walked off of the HAL ship and didn't return.  

But how is that possible?

Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Is this another one of those cases?  Or is this a passenger overboard case which the cruise line didn't realize until the ship arrived in port?

Anyone with information please contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Constantine Kulikovsky via Wikimedia

Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault

Millinnium Cruise Ship  -Sexual Assault Last Friday, I wrote an article about a cruise ship incident where a passenger reported that a Celebrity Cruises crew member "indecently assaulted" her aboard the Celebrity Cruises' Millennium cruise ship as it sailed from Fiji to New Zealand. 

The cruise ship arrived early in the morning on Friday and was scheduled to depart later the afternoon of the same day. 

In my article, I mentioned that in our experience, rape cases involving women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the criminal courts.

One of the problems is that crimes on the high seas fall into a jurisdictional "no-man's land." The Celebrity cruise ship flies the flag of Malta, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The alleged rape reportedly occurred in the waters of Fiji.  The nationality of the alleged perpetrator and victim are unknown, but they are probably not citizens of New Zealand which was conducting the investigation.    

Today, we learn that the local police in New Zealand declined to arrest anyone. A newspaper in New Zealand states that a police detective involved in the investigation cited, as one of other factors, "jurisdiction" as one factor in declining the case for prosecution.  Unless the cruise ship was flagged in New Zealand, or the assailant or victim were a citizen of New Zealand, or the alleged crime occurred in its waters, New Zealand would have no jurisdiction over the incident. 

The police detective said that there was "insufficient evidence" for a prosecution which is the usual type of comment we hear in cases like this.  The detective did not cite exactly what other factors may have played a part in declining the case, but he made disturbing comments about making certain that the cruise ship kept its scheduled itinerary.

Recognizing that the the Millennium was due to sail to at 4:15 PM last Friday afternoon, the detective pointed out that the cruise ship sailed on time: “We were aware of those tight time lines and our team got right into it from the first opportunity, and it wasn’t held up at all.”  This is interesting because an earlier account of the story said that the cruise ship captain didn't notify the local police of the alleged sexual assault until after the cruise ship arrived in port. How do you assemble a forensic team, conduct multiple interviews, administer polygraph tests, look for trace evidence, review video tape surveillance, conduct medical and laboratory tests and get your team off the ship for a timely 4:15 PM departure?  

Why should a professional law enforcement care about boat schedules when the vessel contains an alleged crime scene? 

One of the criticism of cruise ship crimes investigations is that the investigating law authorities are Jim Walker - Dr. Henry Less - Cruise Crime Scene Investigationdeferential to the cruise ship schedule and rush their investigations. Some suggest that local ports are afraid to jeopardize their relationship with large cruise lines by delaying a cruise ship's departure from port. Anger a large cruise line and you run the risk that it will drop your port like a hot potato. Unfortunately, crimes on cruise ships literally involve a moving crime scene that is often compromised due to the cruise line's business interests.

In the infamous case of honeymoon groom George Smith who "disappeared" from the Brilliance of the Seas under disturbing circumstances (we represented his widow in litigation against the cruise line), the local police investigation was so rushed that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship actually left the Turkish port of Kusadasi 45 minutes ahead of schedule

Later, I hired Dr. Henry Lee who assembled a team of nine forensic investigators, video and photography experts and detectives. When we boarded the cruise ship to inspect the Smith's cabin and balcony, the cruise line placed us under substantial time pressure not to interrupt the cruise ship's scheduled itinerary.    

 

Photo:

Top: Bay of Plenty Times

Bottom: MSNBC

Passenger Reports Sexual Assault By Crew Member Aboard Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship

Tauranga New Zealand - Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship - FijiA New Zealand newspaper reports that the police in the port city of Tauranga are investigating sexual assault allegations made against a crew member of the Millennium cruise ship which docked at the port yesterday morning after sailing from Fiji.

Police state a woman in her late 40's or early 50's accuses one of the crew members of the Celebrity Cruises ship of "indecently assaulting her" while the cruise ship was in Fiji waters.

Police state that the passenger alerted the ship’s captain who then informed Tauranga Police once the ship docked at the port in New Zealand.

The newspaper reports that "police are looking into the matter."

Cruise ship rapes are one of the problems which cruise lines try and keep secret.  

A decade ago, we represented a victim of a rape which occurred on this cruise ship. In our experience, the rape of women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the civil courts. Behind the scenes, cruise lines work to defend their employees and build a case against the victims. 

In the civil courts, cruise lines are strictly liable when their employees sexually assault passengers on the high seas.  

November 18, 2012 update: No Surpirse - New Zealand declines to make arrest: "Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault"

 

Photo credit: Sun Live