Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas

The disappearance of passengers and crew members at sea is one of the cruise industry's real problems.  The problem is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to place their reputation as a priority rather than providing information to the grieving families.  If the evidence tends to suggest that a crime occurred, or the circumstances involve facts that may place the cruise lines in an embarrassing light, the cruise lines suppress the information.

Most investigations fall to the country where the cruise ship is registered, such as countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda. These countries depend on the revenue generated from the cruise lines and assist the cruise lines in covering the true facts up.

The video below provides a look into cover-ups alleged against Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line (the Magical Company) and Holland America Line.   

January 7, 2012 Update: Follow the discussion on Facebook: What's more important to the cruise lines when someone disappears on the high seas?

A. The truth, or
B. The cruise line's reputation?

 

As the Disney Wonder Sails From Miami, the Cover-Up Continues: What Happened to Rebecca?

Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam Wonder Cruise ShipThis morning the Disney Wonder arrived in the port of Miami for the first time. It quietly slipped through government cut and nestled itself along side the cruise terminal at the port of Miami where it will start taking families on cruises with their kids dreaming of sailing with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Disney decided to stop sailing the Wonder on a Mexican Riviera route and re-positioned the cruise ship to here in Miami to begin taking passengers on Caribbean cruises. Later today, at 5:00 PM, the Wonder will be departing with a boat-load of families on its inaugural Caribbean cruise from Miami.

What fun for the kids and the proud parents. Certainly a happy time for families to be sailing with their children on a tropical Christmas cruise.

But for one family this Christmas season is a rather somber and frustrating time of year.

Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester England lost their daughter, Rebecca, age 24, from the Disney Wonder off the coast of Mexico last year.  Rebecca was a highly regarded youth counselor whose job was to take care of the kids on the Wonder.  She did not appear at the cruise ship's child facility for work one day. Because Disney flags its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid taxes and labor & wage laws, the responsibility for investigating the disappearance fell to a lone policeman in Nassau.

If you have ever traveled to Nassau, you will quickly learn that the police can't solve a crime when a thief rips a gold necklace from the neck of a visiting cruise passenger even if the robbery takes place across the street from the police station. The notion that a Bahamian police officer could solve a disappearance of a young woman during a cruise from California to Mexico is laughable if the situation were not so sad.

I sent a letter to Disney asking for some basic information and was completely ignored. The Magical Cruise Line people claimed that all information must come from the police in Nassau who refuse, as Disney knows, to cooperate with the Coriam family.        

The policeman eventually prepared a report regarding his "investigation," for what that's worth, but refuses to provide a copy to the Coriam family. Disney is indifferent to the Coriam's plight, and is hiding behind the stonewalling in the Bahamas. 

Mike and Ann Coriam Disney Wonder Cruise ShipA newspaper in the Coriam's home town, the Chesterfirst, has published an article about the tragic and maddening tale, "We Want the Truth." 

“It will be two years in March since Rebecca’s disappearance and we are still no closer to knowing what happened to her on that ship,” said Mike.

“All we want is to know what happened to Rebecca so that we can have some closure, as it is the not knowing that is the most difficult thing to deal with.”

Mike and Ann are hoping that a new appeal for information, now raised in the House of Commons by Chester MP Stephen Mosley, will help bring the Corian family a step closer to establishing what exactly happened to their beloved daughter.

Mr Mosley had told Mike Penning, the U.K. Minister for Shipping, last month that the investigation by Bahamanian police had been “appalling” and that they had made “virtually no attempt at investigating Rebecca’s disappearance.”

“We are having to seek information from the other side of the world and it has been really hard for me, Ann and the rest of the family to deal with . . . the fact is that Rebecca isn’t here with us and we just don’t know what has happened to her."

“She is in our thoughts every single day and Christmas time makes it especially hard for us all. We miss her terribly.”

Later this afternoon, the Disney Wonder will sail out of the port of Miami filled with smiling-faced children. Whether they realize it or not, every family on the Disney Wonder is only a railing away from experiencing the same horror the Coriam family is suffering this Christmas Season.  

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Inaugural Cruise Miami

Photo Credit: Rebecca & Corian Family - Coriam Family 

Photo Credit of Disney Wonder - Jim Walker

Have info about Rebecca? Please contact the Coriam family website.

Watch a video about the case from Australia's Dateline program. Click on Lost at Sea.

Disney Ready to Start Inaugural Season from Miami, While Questions Remain About Disappearance of Disney Youth Counselor

Disney Cruise Line has kicked off its promotion of the Disney Wonder cruise ship sailing from Miami starting December 23, 2012.  

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel newspaper reports today that "Captain Mickey Mouse officially kicked-off the countdown for the arrival of the Disney Wonder to PortMiami with a Disney-style unveiling of a larger than life banner proclaiming “See You Real Soon.”

This will be the first time a Disney cruise ship has home-ported in South Florida.

Readers of my blog will recall that the Disney Wonder has a rather notorious history as the cruise ship from which a young English woman "disappeared" last year.

In March 2011, twenty-four year old Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam somehow "vanished" from the Wonder while it was sailing on a Mexican itinerary from Southern California. The Coriam family feels that Disney has been less than forthcoming with information regarding their daughter's situation. They believe that the cruise line has not cooperated with them in finding out exactly what happened on the Disney cruise ship.

Because Disney flagged its ship in the Bahamas to avoid taxes and labor laws, official responsibility for Rebecca Coriam - Disney Cruise - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipinvestigating disappearances from Bahamian flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. A single policeman from the Bahamas investigated Rebecca's disappearance. The investigation took only a few hours. The Bahamas refuses to provide the Coriams with the results of its investigation and is concealing the official report from them.  Disney refuses to release information to the family saying that they must obtain the information from the Bahamas which, Disney know, won't cooperate at all.

A sorry state of affairs with these foreign incorporated cruise lines sailing under foreign flags of convenience concealing information from grieving families.  

By the way, Rebecca was employed as a youth counselor for Disney. You'd  think that a corporation touting "family cruises" and promoting special vacations for kids would try to get to the bottom of the disappearance of a youth counselor whose job was to take care of children, as well as being sensitive and transparent with the employee's family. Think again.

Below is a video about how cruise lines cover up disappearances at sea, of both passengers and crew.  The Coriam family is interviewed and so am I.  Ask yourself whether Disney will be transparent with you if your daughter disappears from the Disney Wonder when it sails out of Miami next month.

Do you know what happened to Rebecca? Please contact her family: Web: Rebecca-Coriam.com Email: help@rebecca-coriam.com

 

A Parent's Worst Nightmare - Disappearance Of Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  

BBC News published an article which summed up the problems caused when a cruise line like Disney chooses to fly a flag of convenience in a country like the Bahamas.  You can read the article here

A press release with video is here.

Our last article about Rebecca's disappearance is here.

Watch a dateline video from Australia about Rebecca's disappearance below:   

   

 

If you have information about Rebecca's disappearance, please contact us and / or the Coriam family using the contact information below.  We are interested in hearing from former employees of Disney Cruise Lines, particularly youth counselors who used to work aboard the Disney Wonder

Jim Walker:

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Toll Free:  800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Coriam family:

Telephone: 011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecce-coriam.com 

What Happened to Disney Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship One Year Ago?

The following is a copy of a press release issued today regarding the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam:

What Happened to Rebecca

One year ago tomorrow, twenty-four year old Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Rebecca worked aboard the Wonder as a youth counselor.

She was responsible for taking care of the children aboard the cruise ship. Rebecca was last seen just before dawn on March 22, 2011, and then she did not report to work at 9.00 AM.  Disney Cruise Line listed Rebecca as "missing at sea."

A police officer in the Bahamas is responsible for the investigation of Rebecca's disappearance because Disney Cruise Line registered its cruise ship in that country.

Rebecca Coriam - Missing - Disney Cruise LineRebecca's family, Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester, England, have received little information from either Disney or the Bahamas regarding what happened to Rebecca in the early morning hours of March 22, 2011.  It has been one year since Rebecca has been lost.  The family has more questions than answers at this point.

Rebecca's Parents Retain Miami Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker to Help Find Answers

To help find information about what happened to their daughter, the Coriam family retained maritime lawyer Jim Walker of the Miami-based law firm of Walker & O'Neill.  Mr. Walker is an internationally know lawyer whose practice focuses on cruise ship matters, including disappearances of passengers and crew members and crimes on the high seas.  

"In this day and age," Mr. Walker commented, "it is inconceivable that anyone would vanish from a cruise ship - particularly a ship catering to families and children -  without the circumstances being recorded by closed circuit television cameras." 

Rebecca's disappearance has received attention in the United Kingdom.  BBC covered the story and the Guardian newspaper, among many others, published an article "Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea." 

Rebecca's case has been discussed in the House of Commons in England. Her MP, Stephen Mosley, says Disney was “ "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."  He also stated “it’s appalling” that only one policeman from the Bahamas – “an authority internationally recognized as almost toothless” – was called to investigate. He said “flag of convenience” countries such as the Bahamas – as they’re called in the shipping world – shouldn’t be left to conduct these kinds of investigations.

Countries as far away as Australia have demonstrated interest into what happened to Rebecca. Australia's "Dateline" recently aired a special program, "Lost at Sea," which you can watch here

Coming to America 

The United States media, so far, has demonstrated little interest in the case, although Disney and its cruise line, the Magical Cruise Company, are based in the U.S.   

The Coriam family will be traveling to the U.S. seeking information about their daughter.  If you have information about Rebecca or if you are interested in interviewing them or discussing the matter with their counsel, Jim Walker, please use the contact information below.

Jim Walker: 

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Web:  Cruise Law News

Coriam family:

Telephone:  011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com

Web:  Rebecca Coriam

 

March 22, 2012 Update:  BBC News: "Rebecca Coriam: 'Bad Dream' For Missing Girl's Parent"

Mickey Mouse Games: Is Disney Cruise Line Engaged In A Cover-Up On The Disney Wonder?

When I think of Disney Cruise Lines these days, the popular saying "the cover up is always worse that the crime" comes to mind.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who thinks that.  Disney Cruise Lines's conduct over the last nine months after the unexplained disappearance of Disney youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, has a number of people questioning Disney's moral compass.

Just the other week, the Liverpool Daily Post blasted the headline "Shipping Minister Mike Penning Attacks Disney Over Missing Cruise Ship Worker Rebecca Coriam."  The head of the U.K.'s Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipshipping ministry remarked that Disney is "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."

Stephen Mosley, the MP of the city of Chester in England, where Rebecca is from, condemned the so-called investigation after young Rebecca's disappearance as "appalling."

Perhaps the most insightful, and damning, look at Disney Cruise Line's corporate culture is from an article by noted reporter Jon Ronson in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper.   Mr. Ronson's investigative report, 'Lost at Sea," is a must read if you are interested in the culture of a feel good corporation like Disney which chooses obfuscation rather than transparency and cover-up over truth to protect its brand. 

Mr. Ronson, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and the best selling author of "Them" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," took a cruise last month aboard the Disney Wonder to take a hard look at the cruise line and cruise ship which are at the center of the mystery surrounding Ms. Coriam.

He quickly learned that the crewmembers on the cruise ship, although trained to maintain a happy I-don't-know-what-you-are-talking-about disposition, apparently all knew where Ms. Coriam went overboard - the front of deck 5, at the crew pool.

"Disney knows exactly what happened," one crew member told Mr. Ronson.  Referring to a telephone call Ms. Coriam had on the morning in question, the crewmember said: "It was taped.  Everything here is taped.  There's CCTV everywhere.  Disney have the tape."

Mr. Ronson also learned that Disney put flowers at the wall next to the crew pool, although it refused to answer any questions why - leading many crewmembers to become convinced that Disney knows what happened but is not telling anyone.

Disney Wonder Crew Pool There is also the issue of a pair of flip-flops, found on a deck on the morning at issue.  Instead of securing them as evidence and conducting forensic testing to determine whether there was any connection to Ms. Coriam, Disney instead placed them in her cabin when her parents got on board.    

But family members and friends rejected the connection between the sandals and Ms. Coriam, finding them too big and not her style.  Rebecca's cabin mate, her intimate friend and other crewmembers were never asked to identify the flip-flops.  Instead, it was as if Disney wanted Rebecca's family to conclude that she must have slipped the sandals off before she voluntarily went overboard - even if it meant spoliating the evidence by moving the sandals from the open deck into her cabin, after-the-fact. 

The article raises also the basic question of how someone can go overboard from the cruise ship without the CCTV cameras capturing the event.  If Rebecca really went overboard at deck 5 by the crew pool, a crewmember confided: "there's HR offices, the crew gym, the crew office that deals with passports, money, documentation.  And they're saying there's no CCTV cameras?"

If Rebecca really went overboard at this location, it means that it occurred right below the bridge. 

There is something not quite right on the Disney Wonder.  If Disney knows why Rebecca went overboard, her family deserves to know the truth.

The Coriam family does not deserve Mickey Mouse games. 

 

Photo credit: 

Top - Guardian newspaper

Bottom  - davidstauffer.com

Disappearance of Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam Reveals Indifference of Foreign Flag State

Today the case of missing Disney Cruise Line youth counselor Rebecca Coriam is again in the news as a MP from her hometown of Cheshire England spoke before the House of Commons.

You will recall that last March, Ms. Coriam "disappeared" from the Disney Wonder as the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico cruise itinerary. 

How could a young woman, especially one who is charged with taking care of children, simply vanish during a cruise? 

Disney Cruise Lines - Rebecca Coriam - Disney WonderThe disturbing incident raises serious questions regarding not only the safety and security of the passengers and crew on foreign flagged ships but whether there are acceptable systems in place to conduct objective and aggressive investigations into such incidents.

Because the Wonder is flagged in the Bahamas, the Bahamas has the responsibility to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.   This is so even though the cruise ship was based in Los Angeles, and her employer (Magical Cruise Company, Ltd.) is incorporated in the U.K.

In this case this means that a single policeman from Nassau flew to Los Angeles.  Only one policeman from the Bahamas was responsible for conducting a forensic investigation and interviewing the thousands of passengers and crew on the cruise ship once it returned to Los Angeles. 

The local FBI offices in Los Angeles have literally dozens of FBI agents and forensic experts and were readily available to meet the ship at the port.  But they were not invited to become involved, either by the Bahamas or at the urging of the Disney cruise line.

The BBC published an article today about the dilemma.  MP Stephen Mosley asked the House of Commons: "How could we have allowed this to happen to a British citizen?"

Mr Mosley warned people on cruises were not covered by British laws in cases of disappearance, theft or sexual assault at sea.  He said:

"We have the disappearance of a young English woman hired by an English corporation to sail on a cruise ship out of a US port and yet not a single British or American police or forensic team went on board the cruise ship in the days following her disappearance."

Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, are working to change in the law to allow British authorities to investigate cases when British nationals go missing on vessels registered in places like the Bahamas.

 

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

Missing at Sea - Parents of Missing Disney Cruises Youth Counselor Discuss Disappearance of Daughter

Mike and Ann Coriam appeared on CNN International yesterday to discuss the "disappearance" of their daughter, Rebecca Coriam, from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Ms. Coriam worked as a youth counselor aboard the Wonder and went missing six months ago while the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico itinerary. 

The Coriam family are campaigning for greater accountability of the foreign flag cruise industry.  Because Disney chose to flag its cruise ship in the Bahamas, only one police officer in Nassau is responsible for investigating Rebecca's disappearance. 

The Coriam family thanked Victim Support UK which has been providing assistance and emotional support for the family in this time of crisis.  They also thanked Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims, who lost his daughter from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship seven years ago, for his "lots of support and help."

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

British Press Focuses on Missing Cruise Passengers and Crewmembers Following Disappearances of Disney Cruise Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam

Today the Mail Online published an article today entitled:  The Vanishing Passengers: It's A Mystery As Bizarre As It Is Disturbing - Why Have 165 People Gone Missing From Cruise Ships In Recent Years?

The article discusses the cases of "missing' passengers and crew from cruise ships and the lackluster efforts of the cruise lines and foreign flagged investigations which are doomed to failure.  

If you are interested in learning about missing passengers and crewmembers like Rebecca Coriam who "disappeared" from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, please read this article.

Rebecca Coriam - Disney Youth Counselor - Disappearance

AOL Travel in the U.K. also published an article "165 People Have Gone Missing From Cruise Ships Since 1995."
 

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

  

Photo Credit:   Coriam Family via Mail Online

Anguished Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Youth Counselor: Where Is Our Daughter?

Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder in the early morning hours of March 22, 2011.

Her parents, Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester England, know no more today than in March when the cruise line told them their daughter was missing from the cruise ship.  

How, exactly, can a person simply disappear without a trace from a cruise ship, particularly a ship employee responsible for the welfare of children and from a cruise ship which caters to families?  How can there be no CCTV images which provide an answer?

Rebecca Corian - Disney Cruise - MissingSomething is not right with this situation.

Last March, we talked abut the problems families face when their loved ones "disappear" from foreign flagged cruise ships in a number of articles, including Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?  and What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

This past week a number of news paper articles have been published in the U.K. such as:

'Did She Fall? Was She Taken Off the Ship?' Anguished Parents No Closer to the Truth About Daughter’s Disappearance from Disney Ship

Anguish of Rebecca Coriam's Parents Six Months After Cruise Ship Mystery

Scores of People Have Gone Missing from Cruise Ships, It's Time to Find Out Why, Say Parents of Girl who Vanished from Disney Liner

Lost at Sea

The articles above describe the "investigation" into the mystery as a "farce."  The Express states " . . .  the investigation into Rebecca’s death has been so lacklustre that it is barely worthy of the name." 

A single police officer in the Bahamas is supposedly conducting the investigation.  But within a week, the officer announced that the shipboard investigation was over.  

A number of news sources, including the BBC, quoted Superintendent Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in March saying:  "With respect to the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the Royal Bahamas Police have concluded its investigation on board the vessel.  "At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play."

Although the Bahamas police state that the case remains open and under active investigation, Superintendent Rolle is not telling anyone much of anything assuming he is still working on the case.

The Coriam family remains respectful of the involvement of the Bahamian police officer but quickly notes that the Bahamas clearly do not have the resources to conduct an investigation involving a ship sailing between Los Angeles and Mexico.

Rebecca Coriam - Disney Wonder - DisappearanceIt is also questionable that a police officer in the Bahamas is going to be critical of a cruise line which pays the Bahamas to flag its vessels there. 

A particular irony in this case is that Disney Cruise is actually incorporated in the U.K. as the Magical Cruise Company.  So we have a British citizen working for a British cruise line yet only a single policeman in the Bahamas is investigating?  

Faced with these obstacles, the Coriam family is meeting today with U.K. Shipping Minister Hugh Penning to seek the introduction of a law in the U.K. so that British authorities can investigate incidents involving British citizens on international waters.

The Express quotes Mr. Coriam: “I am not sure we will ever know for sure what happened to Rebecca . . .  my mission now is to bring in laws to protect ­others.”

For more information about the petition for a new cruise safety law in the U.K., go to the Coriam family's website.  

If you have information which may help the Coriam family find answers about about Rebecca, please use the following contact info:

help@rebecca-coriam.com  

 

Photo credits

Top:  Corriam family

Bottom:  LA Times

Back From Vacation - Safe, Sound & Thankful

Whistler mountain bikingLast night our family arrived back in Miami after a three week vacation in the Pacific North West.  We enjoyed Pike Place Market in Seattle, kayaked in the Orcas Islands (amazing), mountain biked in Whistler, and hiked Mt. Rainier.  What a blast.

Aside from a spectacular wipe-out on a mountain bike trail by my youngest son, we returned to Miami safe and sound.  

Given the nature of my profession, I am ever mindful that some family vacations do not turn out to be happy memories. 

An experience while visiting Orcas Island reminded me of that.  My wife and law partner Lisa was visiting a quilting store when she overheard the store owner talking about just returning from a Holland America cruise to Alaska with her partner.  Lisa asked how they enjoyed the cruise.  The store owner's face turned grim.  She paused and said a young man disappeared during the cruise.     

The store owner was referring to twenty year old Blake Kepley, who disappeared during an Alaskan cruise with his family aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam on July 22nd.  Like many cruise ship disappearances, the cruise line has not disclosed whether there are closed circuit television images of the young man which may explain what happened.  This lack of transparency causes great stress to the surviving family members who must struggle not only with the misery of losing a child but the confusion of not knowing what really happened.

Kayaking Orca's IslandWhen I hear of incidents like this, I see images of other young men and women who have disappeared from cruise ships without explanation.  Like Amber Malkuch from Holland America's ZandaamRebecca Coriam from the Disney WonderMerrian Carver from the Celebrity Mercury MercuryAngelo Faliva from the Coral Princess, George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, and Amy Bradley from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

I do not know how these families endure their grief.  In the case of Amy Bradley, the Bradley family has suffered through twelve years of missing their daughter with no answers from the cruise line. 

When I hear of incidents of loved ones lost at sea I pray that my children, and all children, remain safe when they travel and vacation.  And when I return home, I am thankful that my family stayed safe from harm.    

Rally for Rebecca Coriam

The Rebecca Coriam Search Foundation is holding a fundraiser and rally to help raise money to continue the search and investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam.

The rally is being held on July 23, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at the Chester Race Course Pavillion. For more information visit the event web page at: A Night for Rebecca Coriam.

Additional information can be found on Rebecca Coriam’s Twitter and Web Page.

Rebecca went missing on March 22, 2011 while working in the youth activity center aboard the M/S Disney Wonder. Cruise Law News (CLN) has previously reported on the disappearance and investigation of Ms. Coriam.

To read more about Rebecca Coriam’s disappearance click on the following:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney’s Wonder Cruise Ship?

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter’s Belongings, But No Answers

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

LA Times Features Case of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting although very sad article about the mystery of a missing crewmember from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Written by Corina Knoll, the LA Times article is entitled "Bereft Parents' Loss is as Deep as the Ocean."

Rebecca Coriam, a 24 year old from Chester, England, joined Disney Cruise Line to work with kids as a youth counselor.  On March 22nd of this year, she failed to show up for work.  As the article explains, she was last seen speaking on the telephone early in the morning and was apparently crying.  A closed circuit television camera (CCTV) recorded these images, yet Disney claims that Rebecca Coriam - Missing Disney Crewmemberthere are somehow no CCTV images of her going overboard.

Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, traveled to California to meet the cruise ship when it returned to port.  They met with the police officer who flew from the Bahamas which is responsible for conducting an investigation because Disney chose to register its cruise ship in that country to avoid U.S. taxes and safety regulations.

It is hard to imagine what the Coriam family was feeling when the Disney Wonder quickly unloaded several thousands of passengers and just as quickly reloaded the ship and set sail from the port in San Pedro.

What type of investigation could a single police man conduct in such a short period of time?  When I was retained by the widow of missing passenger George Smith to search for answers about what happened to him during their honeymoon cruise, we hired world renown forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee and we boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a team of ten forensic experts, photographers, videographers, and detectives.  How on earth could one cop from the Bahamas think he could accomplish anything in such short order?

The real irony here is that the Disney Cruise Line is actually incorporated as the Magical Cruise Company in England.  So we have the disappearance of a young English woman hired by a English corporation to sail on a cruise ship out of a U.S. port and yet not a single English or American police or forensics team were permitted on the cruise ship.  I was quoted in the LA Times article criticizing the token investigations by the cruise friendly flag states, saying that "the families are caught in no-man's-land between the cruise line and the foreign authorities."

There will be no answers from the one policeman in Nassau.  He will not write anything  embarrassing about a cruise line which flies the flag of the Bahamas. 

But someone working on this cruise ship knows more than they are saying.  How can a popular crew employee charged with the responsibility of the cruise guests' children on a Disney cruise ship just "disappear" with no explanation?

The LA Times article lists the Coriam family's website which was created to bring awareness to this cause.  If you know something about Rebecca's disappearance, please contact the family using the information below:

Website:    Rebecca-Coriam.com
Email:         help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:         011 44 7747359968
Media Spokesman:     011 44 7932815970

Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Cruise Lines

Photo credit:  Coriam family via Los Angeles Times. 

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

Local ABC affifilaite channel 7 in Los Angeles has this update on the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam, a youth counselor employed on the Disney Wonder cruise ship:

 

 

If you have information about Rebecca, please contact her family:

Website:    Rebecca-Coriam.com
Email:         help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:         07747359968
Media Spokesman:     07932815970

You read other articles about Rebecca's disappearance, click here.
 

Mystery Continues Over Missing U.K. Cruise Passenger and Crewmember

In the past two months, two citizens from the United Kingdom have disappeared during cruises.  Disney crewmember Rebecca Coriam went missing from Disney's Wonder in March while the cruise ship was sailing from California to Mexico.  This month, U.K. passenger John Halford vanished from the Spirit cruise ship operated by Thomson Cruise Lines while the ship was approaching Egypt. 

Disappearances from cruise ships are an issue the cruise lines hate to talk about.  In an age where the shipping industry faces the risk of terrorism and pirates and there is a need to focus close attention on the rails of cruise ships to protect the passengers and crew, it is inexplicable that anyone can simply vanish into thin air during a cruise.  The fact that it happens raises two possibilities in my opinion:  The cruise ships have insufficient security personnel and an absence Rebecca Corian - Missing - Disney Wonder Cruise Ship of an effective closed circuit television (CCTV) apparatus to monitor who enter or exit (voluntarily or involuntarily) the ships.  Or, the cruise ships have adequate CCTV and security systems in place, but they are simply not being honest with the families about what happened to their loved ones.

In both cases, the families have gone public to state that their missing family members were happy and enjoying life.  In Rebecca Coriam's situation, the disappearance involved a popular and cheerful young woman, undoubtedly adored by her family and well liked by her friends, who enjoyed her job.  Our web site has received at least one comment from a Disney passenger who raved about Rebecca's wonderful skills at interacting with and entertaining the passenger's daughter.  

Mr. Halford's family describe their missing father in similar terms.  According to the Milton Keyes Citizen newspaper, Ruth Halford described her husband, John, like this: "He was happy, certainly not depressed, enjoying his cruise and meeting people but looking forward to getting home again to be with me and the children . . . "

The last known publicly disclosed facts about each disappearance leave room for speculation.  CCTV showed Rebecca speaking on the telephone in a public area the night before she went missing.  A search was not initiated until she did not appear for work until the next morning at 9:00 a.m.  Certainly there must be additional CCTV images if she went overboard from one of the decks.  Crew members obviously do not have private balconies.  Where is the CCTV of what happened?  Why didn't Rebecca's cabinmate or friends notice her missing earlier?

The last known facts about Mr. Halford indicate that he was last seen on board the cruise ship at 11:45 p.m. the night before he disappeared, drinking cocktails in the bar when the ship was approaching its final port, according to the Milton Keyes newspaper.  But when the ship reached port and the passengers were disembarking at 7:00 a.m., there was no trace of him. 

John Halford - Missing - Thompson Spirit Cruise Ship Did he end his own life?  That seems far fetched.  He was looking forward to his silver wedding anniversary in June and dearly loved his three children by all accounts.

The fact that there are two families grieving about these "mysteries" reflects poorly on the cruise industry.  It is inexcusable that no CCTV tape exists to reveal what happened, if in fact no CCTV tape exists. 

Ruth Halford tells her local newspaper:  “It’s terrible for the children. We are trying to cope together and not to give up hope but it is so difficult.”

“If anyone has seen him or knows what happened that night it would be so helpful. Not knowing is terrible and it is getting worse and worse by the day.”

If foul play was involved in either situation, the fact that a victim can "disappear" without a trace on a cruise raises profound questions about the issue of shipboard crime and whether the concept of "cruise ship justice" is at best an illusion.  If the disappearances involved accidents or intentional decisions to go overboard, the families deserve to know this and try and understand why this happened. 

They should not live a lifetime of doubt and speculation.  They are entitled to some sense of closure, if that is possible.

 

To contact the Coriam family, go to the family's website: Rebecca-Coriam.com

To read about other articles about Ms. Coriam, click here.

To contact the police in Mr. Halford's case, please call 845 8 505 (country code 41).

To read other cases about Mr. Halford, click here.

BBC Radio Interviews Cruise Law's Jim Walker Regarding Disappearance of Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam

This afternoon BBC Radio (Radio Merseyside) interviewed maritime lawyer Jim Walker in Miami regarding the disappearance of Disney youth activities worker Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

Rebecca was reported missing when she failed to report to work aboard the cruise ship on March 22, 2011.  You can listen to the BBC Radio interview here.  It runs just five minutes or so.    

Disney Cruise Line  - Rebecca Coriam - MissingIt has been almost a month and Rebecca's family continue to seek answers about her disappearance.

Ironically, Disney Cruise incorporated its cruise line as the Magical Cruise Company in the U.K. (for tax purposes) where Rebecca's family resides.  Yet, there are no investigators from the U.K. invested with jurisdiction for investigating her disappearance.  Instead, the "investigation" is being officially conducted by a policeman from the Bahamas because Disney flagged its cruise ship in that country (again primarily for tax purposes).   

How is it that the Scotland Yard or someother competent agency are not involved in investigating the disappearance of a U.K. employee from a cruise ship operated by a company incorporated in the U.K.? 

Ms. Coriam's family created a website which contains contact information.  The site is Rebecca-Coriam.com.  If you have information about Rebecca, please click on the website and e-mail the family.     

You can read our other articles on this case here.  

 

Photo credit:  KTLA.com

Family of Missing Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam Create Website

The parents of missing Disney Cruises youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, recently launched a website Rebecca-Coriam.com seeking answers to the disappearance of their daughter from Disney's Wonder cruise ship.  The family's website states:

"Rebecca was last seen just before dawn on the 22nd March 2011, where she worked on the Disney Wonder Cruise liner as a youth activities worker.

Rebecca Coriam - Missing Disney Cruises - Youth Activities Counselor The alarm was raised when she failed to show for duty at 09.00hrs. The crew searched the ship but could not find her; Rebecca has since been listed 'Missing at sea.'

Rebecca’s parent’s Mike and Ann Coriam with Rebecca’s Aunt flew to LA on Friday 25th March 2011 to meet with the Disney Wonder when it arrived in port. They returned home on Monday 28th March 2011 with no answers and no clue to what has happened to their daughter and niece.

Father Paul of St Werburghs, of Chester has contacted the Mexican Catholic Churches along the Pacific coastline asking them to aid the coastline search for Rebecca.

The Investigation is still under way; the family and authorities are doing all they can to find Rebecca."

The family recently told their local newspaper, the Chester Chronicle, that "they are still being left in the dark over their daughter’s disappearance." 

Were you a crew member or passenger on the Wonder when Rebecca went missing?

If you have information about Rebecca, please contact the family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

Will Twitter Help Family of Missing Disney Crew Member Find Answers?

Today a newspaper in the U.K., the Chester Chronicle, contains an interesting article "Family Demand Answers as Investigation into Chester Disney Cruise Ship Worker Continues."   Although the article is a bit of a rehash of events since last week about the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from Disney Cruise Line's Wonder cruise ship, the newspaper reports that: 

" ... cousin Kerry Gaffney has been using the social networking website Twitter in a desperate bid for information on Rebecca’s whereabouts.  Her post read: 'My cousin, Rebecca Coriam, is missing and Disney is not as helpful as it makes out.  Please help put the pressure on them.'  Another post said the family are getting conflicting reports about what was seen and what went on."

Kerry Gaffney's witter name is @kerrymg and the tweet asked those on Twitter to "RT" (re-tweet) her message.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are useful tools to obtain information from the public about mysteries on the high seas.  Cruise lines maintain exclusive control of the scene of disappearances, and access to witnesses and evidence on cruise ships.  When the Disney Wonder returned to port in Los Angeles last Sunday, over 1,700 passengers scattered across the U.S., Canada and other countries without being interviewed by anyone.  This is fine with the cruise Disney Cruise Twitter - @DisneyCruiselines, who want this public spectacle to end sooner than later irrespective of whether the family finds answers to this latest mystery.

So how can you appeal to potential witnesses scattered around the country?  One way is Twitter.

Disney's Twitter page for its cruise line is @DisneyCruise.  It has 26,000 followers.  

Twitter, Facebook, websites and blogs can help level the playing field with cruise lines and their we-just-want-the-media-to-go-away attitude.   If you are reading this and have a Twitter page, send a message:

"What is @DisneyCruise doing to find information for the Coriam family about the #cruise disappearance of their daughter on the Wonder?" 

Ask your followers to re-tweet your question.

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Over the past years, we have been involved in a number of cases where cruise passengers and crew members have been victims of crimes on cruise ships heading to the Bahamas or ashore in downtown Nassau.  We have witnessed the local police bungle the cases miserably and quickly close their files. 

The Bahamian police cannot solve crimes against cruise passengers and employees which happen across the street from their police station.  So the notion of the Bahamian police solving the disappearance of a young woman from England lost in the Pacific ocean off of the coast of Mexico is a rather ludicrous proposition.

This afternoon, the Bahamian police announced in the case of missing Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam  ". . . there is no evidence to suggest foul play." 

A number of news sources, including the BBC, are quoting Superintendent Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, saying today:  "With respect to the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the Royal Bahamas Police have concluded its investigation on board the vessel.  "At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play. The case remains open and under active investigation.''

What on earth does this mean?  No evidence of foul play?  Does this mean that there is evidence of something other than foul play?  Does it mean that the police think that Ms. Coriam inadvertently or intentionally went overboard?   Or does it mean simply that the police in the Bahamas don't  have any idea what happened and instead of admitting that, they are doing Disney a favor by trying to convince the public to keep sailing on cruise ships flagged in the Bahamas?  

Remember this is not an announcement from the Bahamian Maritime Authority (BMA) which is suppose to investigate casualties on cruise ships which are registered in the Bahamas to avoid taxes.  This is the Royal Bahamas Police who flew from the Bahamas to meet the ship on Sunday in Los Angeles, quickly conducted some type of "investigation" on the ship on Sunday (five days after the disappearance), let the ship return on its regularly scheduled  itinerary, and then quickly flew back to Nassau yesterday for a press statement today.  

There were over 1,700 passengers on the Disney Wonder and many hundreds of crew members.  The ship is over three football fields long and over a dozen decks high.  There are hours of CCTV Marching Military Band Greet Bahamian Flagged Cruise Shipfootage to sit and review, electronic telephone and link-lock data to analyze, polygraphs to administer, and detective work to perform.  It is not possible to interview witnesses and inspect the premises with a competent forensic team in such short order.

In our prior articles about this disappearance, we discussed the limitations of the "authorities" which are suppose to investigate cruise disappearances and the type of investigation that the family needs to conduct on its own initiative. 

The Bahamas, whether it be the BMA or the local police, is not interested in and otherwise incapable of conducting an aggressive, competent, fair and impartial investigation into the affairs of the cruise ships which pay to incorporate in that country.  The conflict of interest is glaring and repugnant.

Making a press statement of "no foul play" at this early date is like punting on first down in order to avoid embarrassing the other team. 

The Royal Bahamas Police's services are advertised on its website, including ". . .  temporary liquor licenses, firearm licensing, vendors permits, online character certificates, and barricade rental."   "Conducting international investigations" does not seem to be a service it provides.  

So what are the real skills of the Bahamas when it comes to the cruise industry?  Entertainment.  Beaches.  The straw market in Nassau.  And its wonderful military bands, which march along side the Miami-based but Bahamian-flagged cruise ships when they port in Nassau. 

In fact, the Bahamas sends 10 times more military musicians to greet its cruise ship friends at port than it sent police to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.          

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter's Belongings, But No Answers

Michael and Ann Coriam returned to the U.K. with their younger daughter's belongings but no answers regarding the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.  Sky News released a video today of the Coriam family's interview with the media in Los Angeles before their return home. 

 

 

Credit:  Sky News via The Sun Newspaper  

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers 

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

A number of different news stations are reporting that the Coriam family remains without an explanation regarding the circumstances surrounding the apparent overboard disappearance of their daughter, Rebecca, from Disney's Wonder cruise ship last week.

The Wonder returned to port in California yesterday amidst reports that the Coriam family had flown to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship.  Newspapers are reporting that the "Royal Bahamas Police Force" had also flown to the U.S. to meet the ship as well.  This is an unusual development because the Bahamian police are a separate entity from the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) which is charged with the investigation because Disney chose to flag its vessel in the Bahamas for tax purposes.  We have been involved in cases where the Bahamian police will be involved in a criminal investigation when the cruise ship sails into the port of Nassau after a crime occurs on the ship and Nassau is the next port.  We are not aware of police officers from the Bahamas traveling to an United States port to investigate in conjunction with investigators from the BMA.

The BMA and the cruise line are issuing the usual press statements.  The BMA states that "Disney is fully cooperating," and Disney states that "we've been in close contact with the Coriam family, and we're assisting them in any way we can."  At the same time, the Coriam family states that Disney is not providing an explanation regarding what happened to their daughter.

The Wonder left the port in L.A. in the the early evening yesterday and has returned to its routine cruise schedule.  FOX News published an article "Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of 24-Year-Old Disney Cruise Line Employee" which includes a video (below) of several passengers speculating about what happened.  

It must be maddening for the family to see people talking about such circumstances, without knowing their identity and an opportunity to question the passengers and crew members directly.  I have always thought that passengers should be given contact information for the family and/or an opportunity to meet with the family members at the port to discuss what they observed before they scatter across the U.S. after the cruise.  At a minimum, the family should be provided with a complete list of the passengers and contact information so that they have an opportunity to conduct their own investigation.  In many cases we have been involved in the witnesses with the most relevant information are not interviewed by either the cruise line or law enforcement following a disappearance or shipboard crime.  

 

 

Video credit:  FOX News

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers

The parents and aunt of missing Disney Cruise Line employee Rebecca Coriam arrived in Los Angeles today from the U.K. seeking information about the young woman's unexplained disappearance from the Wonder cruise ship.  The video of Mr. and Ms. Coriam from ABC-7 Los Angeles is below.

We have written a number of articles about this situation:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

 

 

The local CBS station in Los Angeles is reporting that: 

"Her family said her roommate told them Coriam had called a friend, but Disney representatives were not releasing information regarding the call.  'They say they know what the conversation was but they’re not telling us,' Coriam’s aunt, Trish Davies, told ABC7. They say they’ve got to wait for the investigation.” 

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

The press in the U.S. and in the U.K. are continuing to cover the story of the disappearance of a Disney Cruise Line youth counselor who apparently went overboard from the Wonder last Tuesday during a 7 day "Mexican Riviera" cruise.  BBC News reports that the parents of Rebecca Coriam flew from the U.K. to be present when the cruise ship returns to Los Angeles.    

We reported on the disappearance on Thursday and yesterday we published our perspective on who investigates disappearances from cruise ships

In our article yesterday, we were very critical of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) for being either disinterested in passenger and crew member deaths or being beholden to the cruise line's interests.   In 2005, we were involved in one of the highest profile cruise ship disappearances when U.S. passenger George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon with his wife while aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  We represented Mr. Smith's wife. 

The BMA was suppose to be involved in the investigation because like the Wonder, the Brilliance is flagged in the Bahamas.  However, the BMA did nothing as far as we could tell.  It appeared to be satisfied with receiving the casualty report from the cruise line speculating that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and may have fallen over the railing, a quick and self-serving conclusion which became questionable once we began our investigation and retained the renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to assist us.  To our knowledge, the BMA did not even prepare a report. 

In this case, it is reported that the BMA sent investigators to Cabo San Lucas yesterday.  Tomorrow the cruise ship will return to Los Angeles where Ms. Coriam's parents will be waiting.

As we explained yesterday, trusting that the BMA will perform an energetic, fair and impartial investigation, or relying on the transparency and honesty of a foreign flagged cruise line, are naive and inherently risky propositions.  Any family seeking answers under these circumstances should consider retaining their own experienced investigators like Ken Carver, the President of the International Cruise Victims, did following the mysterious disappearance of his daughter during an Alaskan cruise.  

There are a number of issues which the cruise line has already focused on.  it is prudent that certain information be reviewed as soon as possible by someone other than the cruise line or the BMA.  

CCTV:  There should be closed circuit television images of the crew member indicating when she was last seen on the ship.  When a crew member goes overboard, there should be images of the crew member on a deck and walking around the ship.  There should be a review of the location of the CCTV cameras, an inspection of the CCTV / security office and equipment, a review of the diagrams for all CCTV cameras, and a walk-around of the cruise ship from the crew member's cabin, through all connecting hallways, stairs, and elevators, to the upper decks.   

Locklink reports / C-Pass cards / Telephone print-outs:  All crew members have their "C-Pass" cards swiped by the security guards when they board and exit the cruise ship.  This will establish when the crew member last embarked/disembarked.  Crew members use electronic cards to enter and exit their cabins.  There is a print out (often called lock-link reports) for each cabin, indicating when the doors are opened and who opened the door.  Cruise lines can also print out details of when the cabin telephones were used, and who the calls were made to and from on the ship.  A time line can be created in correlating the information available from the CCTV, C-Pass, lock-link and telephone print-outs.  

Computer / iPhone / Backberry / Android:  The crew members computer and hand-held devices contain information when they were last used and when emails, test messages, skype and social media were used.    

Cabin mate / co-employees / supervisors / employment records:  Cruise lines quickly take statements from the missing crew member's cabin mates, friends, co-workers, and supervisors for relevant information.  They review the missing employee's employment records and electronic data.  A security officer will take statements and prepare reports.

As we previously explained, although the cruise line's public relations department will state they are cooperating with all authorities, the truth of the matter is that they subsequently assert that the results of their own internal investigations are "legally privileged"  and are not to be shared with the missing crew member's family.  A request for access to the above described information and access to the ship for an inspection and to co-employees for independent questioning should be made promptly. 

If the cruise line resists these reasonable requests, the issue arises whether there is a conflict of interest between the missing crew member's employer and the surviving family members.

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

The disappearance of a youth counselor from the Disney Wonder cruise ship this week raises the issue of who is responsible for conducting investigations when crew members disappear at sea.

Disney released the following statement to us yesterday:

"The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter.  We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   Disney also told us that Mexican Navy - Cruise Overboards - Crew Passenger Disappearancesthe cruise line notified the U.S. Coast Guard. 

But what is the reality of who does what in cases like this?  What is the true involvement of the Mexican government, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, and the cruise line in these type of circumstances? 

The Mexican Navy:  Because the incident appears to have occurred off of the coast of Mexico, the Mexican Navy is involved.  Now, some people will say that the "Mexican Navy" conjures up an image of "three men in a row boat."  Such criticism, although disrespectful, may accurately characterize the small scale of the Mexican maritime operations.  When you think of dramatic search and rescue operations, the "Mexican Navy" does not come to mind.  Rather, one would hope that the U.S. Coast Guard, with its quick deployment of cutters, jets and helicopters, is involved.  

Mexico is a country of limited resources.  Its is questionable what motivation Mexico has to expend money and resources searching for a citizen of another country who went overboard from a ship registered registered in the Bahamas.  Once its navy ends its search (which it has probably already done), the country of Mexico will have no further involvement.  

The U.S. Coast Guard:  CNN's article "Disney Cruise Employee Missing Off Mexico" indicates that while the Mexican navy is leading the search, it asked for the U.S. Coast Guard's help early in the effort.  The Coast Guard provided long-range search aircraft but was not now actively involved in the search as of yesterday.  The U.S. Coast Guard is an impressive and highly experienced group of men and women, but there is only so much it can do when cruise overboards occur around the FBI - Cruise Disappearances - Passenger Crew Overboardsworld.

The FBI:  CNN's article contains a revealing quote from a spokesperson from the FBI. "The FBI is not involved because it does not have jurisdiction, as the ship was off the coast of Mexico flying under a foreign flag," said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller of the agency's Los Angeles office. 

This is a typical comment from the Los Angeles office of the FBI which, unlike the U.S. Coast Guard, is filled with bureaucrats with little motivation to leave their desks and head over to the port when the cruise ship returns to L.A.  The fact of the matter is that the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate incidents which occur on U.S. based cruise ships around the world, especially when a U.S. citizen is involved, even though the ships fly flags of convenience.

The statement of the FBI spokesperson that the FBI has no jurisdiction because the ship was in Mexican waters is preposterous.  Last month, the FBI investigated the murder of a Polish crew member from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship calling on Cozumel which was allegedly committed by a Mexican citizen, even thought the victim was employed on a foreign flagged ship and the crime occurred ashore in Mexico.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority:  Under the Bahamas Merchant Shipping Act 1976, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is supposedly responsible for investigating incidents involving Bahamas-registered ships worldwide.  The BMA has been criticized for being being beholden to large shipping companies like Disney and Royal Caribbean which register their cruise ships there to escape U.S. safety rules and regulations and U.S. taxes.  

Bahamas Maritime Authority - Cruise DisappearancesThe BMA has a deplorable record responding to serious injuries, deaths or crimes involving passengers passengers and crew members on cruise ships flying the Bahamian flag.  Often no real investigation is performed.  Often the "investigation" will consist of a representative or two from the BMA appearing at the next port of call, sometimes working with the cruise line's defense lawyers or risk management team.  No BMA report concluding malfeasance of the cruise line in a passenger or crew death will ever see the light of day.

If foul play is involved, the BMA will do nothing.  As the BMA concedes on its website, "in fact, reports and documents may not be used as evidence in the event of any subsequent criminal proceedings. If a criminal investigation proves necessary, the entire incident should be investigated by a body independent of the original investigating authority."

So if foul play is involved (and there is no indication of that one way or the other), then who will be involved?  The FBI has already declined to get involved.  No police detectives from Nassau will fly to California to investigate.  No police or sheriff agencies in California (where the vessel is ported) will become involved.  No police agency from Florida (where the cruise line is located) or the United Kingdom (where the cruise line is incorporated) will investigate a disappearance at sea involving a cruise ship sailing between California and Mexico. 

The Cruise Line:  The Wonder cruise ship is operated by the Magical Cruise Company, Limited, d/b/a Disney Cruise Line, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom for tax purposes.  Although Disney is saying that it is speaking with its crew member’s colleagues "to gather as much information as possible," these statements and reports will never become public knowledge and will usually be kept away from the crew member's family.  Cruises line have exclusive control of the scene of the incident, witnesses, and evidence such as CCTV tapes.  Cruise lines consider their own Disney Cruise Wonder - Passenger Crew Disappearancesinvestigation to be privileged "work product," conducted for the purpose of defending them from potential law suits.  Disney usually hires some of the top maritime defense firms here in Miami to defend their legal interests. 

The Crew Member's Country: An issue remains of the nationality of the crew member.  Most youth counselors on cruise ships are American, Canadian, or English.  If you are from the U.S. and it was your child who went overboard, who would you want investigating the disappearance?  The FBI or the Bahamas Maritime Authority?   If a Canadian or English citizen is involved, no one from these countries will be actively involved with an investigation. 

The Bottom Line:  Disappearances at sea like this fall into "no man's land."   The FBI takes the "not my problem" approach.  The flag state's investigation will end up in a file cabinet in an old building in Nassau.  Disney's investigation files will never leave the cruise line's risk management and legal departments.  

According to cruise expert Ross Klein's website, 157 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade.   Many appear to be due to intoxication, negligence, suicide, and sometimes foul play, but many remain unsolved mysteries.  Often there is a delay in reporting the Rebecca Coriam - Disney Crew Member - Chester England disappearances to the authorities and the crew member's family.  Uncertainly, confusion and a lack of closure are the usual outcomes.   Certainly there must be a better way to investigate disappearances from cruise ships than this.  The families of loved ones lost at sea deserve better.    

 

March 25th Update:  BBC News identifies the crew member as Rebecca Coriam of Chester England.  The BBC article states that England's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been "in touch with the relevant organisations and authorities" and identifies the Bahamas Maritime Authority and Interpol.  

Photo credit:     BBC News

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

In the past day our office has received numerous requests for information about a woman who apparently went overboard from the Disney Wonder cruise ship two days ago.

There are no reports of this alleged incident in the mainstream press.  This does not necessarily mean anything because the last three cruise line overboard were either not reported in the press at all or the stories were mentioned only in non-U.S. newspapers.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship OverboardCruise expert Ross Klein's website contains a short reference to the incident, stating: "From a crew member (unconfirmed):  Two days ago one of the youth activities counselors apparently jumped over board.  It was at 3 am.  They are still searching the ship without any news about her."  

Professor Klein reports that there have been 157 cruise ship overboards in the last decade.

There have been five other cruise ship overboards this year, involving crew members from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Cruise's Constellation, Carnival's Miracle, and Costa's Atlantica, as well as a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

Neither the cruise industry nor the U.S. maintain a list of cruise overboards.  

Disney responded to our request for information indicating that the cruise line reported the incident to the Mexican Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the F.B.I., and the Bahamas Maritime Authority.   Disney sent us the folowing statement: 

“Given the circumstances we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation. The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter. We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   

Consider reading:  Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Do you have information about this latest overboard?  Please leave a comment below. 

 

March 24th Update:  The crew member apparently disappeared off of the coast of Mexico.  The ship is sailing to Cabo San Lucas today.  Here is a video from ABC-7 News (Los Angeles):

  

 

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Officials are searching for a female Disney Wonder cruise ship crew member who has been missing since Tuesday.

We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member's colleagues to gather as much information as possible," a Disney Cruise Lines statement indicated.

The Disney Wonder, which sailed out from the Port of Los Angeles, has been on a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Rena Langley said the Mexican Navy is conducting the search. The U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI also is assisting. The Bahamian Maritime Authority is investigating the incident.

Langley said the crew member, who has been with the cruise line since 2010, never returned for her scheduled shift. She did not identify the missing woman. It's unclear if she fell overboard, but Langley said it's "certainly a possibility."

"Given the circumstances, we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation," Disney officials said.

March 25 Update:  BBC News identified the crew member as Ms. Rebecca Coriam, age 24, from Chester, England.