Independence of the Seas Mooring Mishap Kills Two in St. Kitts

This morning we were contacted by passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas indicating that two dockworkers were killed when the cruise ship was leaving the port.

The passengers described the incident as occurring when the two dockworkers were in a small vessel trying to remove the last mooring lines. The Independence of the Seas' wake allegedly swamped the vessel with its azipods and threw the two men into the water. The vessel then allegedly slammed into the Celebrity Silhouette and overturned.

The two men were described as wearing life-vests, although one vest apparently became loose when the man was tossed into the water.

The passengers who we communicated with were critical that the Independence "launched rescue but not fast enough. Celebrity took 30 min after we launched rescue to respond."  They described a "lack of quick response and feeling of helplessness."

The incident occurred yesterday around 5:00 PM.  The Independence was delayed approximately 3 Independence of the Seas St Kittshours.

The incident has already been posted on social media sites.

The Times Caribbean Blog posted this on Facebook (and the photo to the right):  

"Eyewitnesses suggest that the Cruise Liner may have pulled out before the men had enough time to clear the berthing area. As a result the sea currents created by the massive cruise liner may have caused the smaller berthing boat to capsize and the men were apparently sucked below water by the current and drowned."

The news account also indicated that "the small boat was capsized when our rear azipods pushed us away from the dock. The two men where thrown overboard and never resurfaced, only one had on a life vest, the other man's life vest came off when he was thrown into the water. The capsized boat was then pushed into the back of the Silhouette. All of this viewed from my aft balcony, kinda puts a damper on an otherwise wonderful cruise. Very sad for the families of these two men.'" 

CNN iReport posted information (based on the Times Caribbean account) and a local newspaper in St. Kitts, SKNVibes, published an article as well.

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer identified the two men. 

April 5 2014 UpdateLinesman expresses safety concerns following colleague's death.

If anyone has additional information or photos or video of the incident, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Times Caribbean

Guilty Pleas in Celebrity Cruises Excursion Bus Robbery in St. Kitts

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer reports today that five men accused of robbing a tour bus full of cruise passengers in November 2010 pleaded guilty to the crime.

Elroy “Stanny” Williams, Junior “Que” Sobratie, and Curtis Long were charged with four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of assault with intent to rob, while Delvin Francis and George Welsh were charged as accessories to the crime.

The men were involved in the armed robbery of the 17 cruise passengers who were aboard a tour bus on its way to Brimstone Hill Fortress.

St. Kitts Cruise Ship RobberyThe robbery targeted 17 cruise passengers from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. They were on a cruise sponsored excursion called the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus." While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path. The driver exited to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

A local newspaper reported that seventeen passengers, including an infant, were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery. The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items.

We wrote a number of articles about the crime:

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbers Face Trial in St. Kitts

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbers Face Trial in St. Kitts

The alleged robbers of a bus load of Celebrity cruise passengers in St. Kitts are facing trial for a crime committed during an excursion in St. Kitts in November 2010.

We wrote about this incident in our article More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts.

The robbery targeted 17 cruise passengers from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. They were on a cruise sponsored excursion called the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus."  While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path. The driver exited St. Kitts Robbery - Excursion - Celebrity Cruise Shipthe bus to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

A local newspaper reported that seventeen passengers, including an infant, were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery. The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items. 

As is often the case in St, Kitts, the police did not release the name of the cruise line or cruise ship. Local police and tourism bureaus in the Caribbean are very sensitive to bad press and avoid embarrassing the cruise lines on which they rely for the U.S. tourist dollar.  Nonetheless, the crime caused cruise lines to temporarily suspend cruises to the island.

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer reports that five men are accused of being involved in the robbery.

St. Kitts has recently been in the "cruise news" lately.  Last month, a young woman from Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas alleged that she was raped aboard an excursion sailboat which sailed between St. Kitts and Nevis.  

 

Photo credit:  St. Kitts & Nevis Observer

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Sexual Assault During Sailing Excursion in St. Kitts & Nevis

A newspaper in St. Kitts & Nevis, the Observer, reports that police are investigating a sexual assault involving a cruise ship passenger visiting the island last week. on Tuesday.

The newspaper states that the local  police confirmed that a report had been made by a female cruise passenger that she was sexually assaulted while aboard a catamaran tour. The woman was a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas cruise ship, which had docked at Port Zante earlier that morning.  According to the Observer:

" . . . the alleged incident took place in the bathroom of the catamaran while it was docked in Nevis. Information received was that the female reported the incident when the vessel returned to St. Kitts at the end of the tour; the young woman was aboard the catamaran with a family member. Police Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas - St. Kitts confirmed that she was taken to JNF Hospital where she underwent several routine tests for sexual assault reports."

The following day, the police issued a public statement stating:

"The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force take all claims of sexual assault very seriously. All claims of sexual assault are investigated and if substantiated, charges are filed against the suspects and arrests are made. So serious is the resolve of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force to combat offenses of sexual assault in the Federation, a Special Victims Unit (SVU) was created and staffed with investigators who were trained in both the United States and Canada. Based on the investigation conducted, and information presented by the reporter, there is no physical evidence to substantiate her allegation of a sexual assault. The investigation continues."

It appears unusual for a police department to quickly issue a public statement conveying information from a rape kit analysis in the middle of an alleged investigation.  It makes you wonder if the local police are acting as spokespeople for the tourism bureau.  Part of the problem with rapes during cruises is how quickly the cruise lines and local authorities deny they occur in the interest of protecting their reputations.

The newspaper does not identify the name of the excursion company, the name of the catamaran, or whether this was an excursion sponsored by Royal Caribbean.  The cruise line has a catamaran excursion which you can see here, although it is not clear whether the incident involved this excursion. 

The risk of sexual assault during cruises is real, both on the cruise ships, during water excursions, and ashore.  We have represented young women sexually assaulted during snorkeling and diving excursions as well as in ports of call.    

 

Celebrity Cruises Passengers Busted for Pot in St. Kitts

Celebrity Eclispe Cruise Ship - St. KittsA newspaper in St. Kitts reports today that on Wednesday two U.S. passengers who arrived in St. Kitts aboard a cruise ship were arrested by local police for possessing pot.

The U.S. couple from Los Angeles were sailing on the Celebrity Eclipse when ship security was alerted to the possibility of passengers having marijuana in their cabin.  Ship security searched the couple's cabin and found pot.  St. Kitts police then arrested the passengers and took them to jail ashore.

One of the passengers reportedly admitted to purchasing marijuana on a beach when the cruise ship docked in St. Maarten the day before.  A local judge fined the passenger EC $5,000, which he reportedly paid immediately after the hearing.

The couple were not permitted to return to the cruise ship.  They spent the night in St. Kitts, and left the island the following day.  A fine of EC (East Caribbean currency) turns out to be around
US $1,850. 

Lots of the island countries which cruise ships frequent levy substantial fines for cruise passengers possessing small amounts of pot for recreational use.

I wish that the cruise ship security and local port police would show such vigor in arresting passengers and crew engaged in violent crimes on cruise ships.

Cruise Law RoundUp - Cruise Fire Fallout, Business as Usual in St. Kitts, Spy Cruise Spooks, and Oprah Loses Her Allure

Another strange week in the world of cruising, with multiple stories about the cruise industry appearing in the main stream newspapers and on the major television networks.

Cruise Fire Fallout:  The Splendor cruise ship will be out of service until January 2011, meaning Carnival will lose revenue from over 20,000 passengers.  A Time Magazine blog blasted a harsh headline about the predicament with "Worst Cruise Ship Ever: Disabled Splendor To Ruin 20,000 More Vacations."  By my calculations, Carnival is facing around $50 million dollars in lost revenue over the next two months.  But stockholders don't worry.  The cruise line will eventually get every penny back from the Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Cruise from Hell?manufacturers and designers of the Splendor's engine system.

Cruise Was No Nightmare:  Even though hundreds of local television stations and newspapers covered the "cruise from hell" angle of the Splendor fire, some optimistic passengers (with a sense of humor and a keen perspective) still had a decent time. Colorado residents Maggie and Ken Wildenstein commented "I think Carnival treated us very well" in a nice story in their local newspaper, The Fort Morgan Times, entitled "Cruise  Was No Nightmare."     

Cruise Ship Design Flaw?:  The Splendor was towed to a facility near 10th Avenue in San Diego for repairs to the engine room (article by KUSI News-San Diego).  The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be participating in the investigation into the fire, which is being conducted by the Panama Maritime Authority because, like all of Carnival's ships, the Splendor is registered in Panama to avoid U.S. regulations and taxes.  The local news station in San Diego questions how a single generator failure could cause a catastrophe with the vessel losing all of its power. Does the vessel have a design flaw?  The cruise ship's entire electrical systems should not have been damaged to such a degree.

Business as Usual in St. Kitts:  Two days ago, the tourism board in St. Kitts announced that the "cruise industry" would be sending "security consultants" to the island to investigate whether it was safe for cruise passengers to tour St. Kitts.  Today, a local newspaper announced that the cruise line Oprah Give Away - Free Cruise - Allure of the Seasexecutives pledged to return to the island - "No More Cruise Ship Cancellation to St. Kitts."  Well, that was a fast investigation by the cruise lines.  Although the local newspapers initially chose not to publish the name of the cruise ship involved in the robbery, they were quick to broadcast the names of the five banditos who allegedly robbed the passengers: Elroy "Stanny" Williams (age 29), Devon "‘X Man" Hodge (28), Grenville "Rogie" Rogers (20), Junior "Q" Sabratie (24), and Admenston Lewis (27) all local residents of Sandy Point in St. Kitts.  It's amazing how fast the local police can arrest suspects when an entire country's economy is based on the cruise industry.    

Oprah Loses Her Allure:  The week ended strangely with another Oprah give away, this time a "7-day cruise on the new largest ship in the world," Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  OK.  I admit it.  I am not a fan of Oprah, who seems rather duplicitous to me.  And Royal Caribbean has a well documented history of exploiting its crew members and the Caribbean islands for decades.  So they team up to give some free cruises for PR purposes to promote Royal Caribbean's newest Monstrosity of the Seas.  Sustainability anyone?   Two thumbs down.       

Spy Cruise Spooks (Kooks?):  Talking about strange, last month, I commented on a rather bizarre event scheduled for this week called the Spy Cruise where certain passengers on the Holland America Spy Cruise - Michael Hayden - Peter GossLine's Eurodam cruise ship can attend lectures and talks on espionage, spies, intelligence, and counterterrorism by speakers who are "intelligence experts, leaders, officers, operatives, analysts, authors and historians, many of whom served in the US Intelligence Community."  Well, a "National Security Reporter" for the Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, sailed on the cruise this week. 

Ms. Shephard interviewed some of the top former spooks, like Michael Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA (photo left - is he showing how you waterboard a terrorist suspect?), and former CIA director Porter Goss (photo middle) about some serious subjects like "terrorism, tourism and torture."   By the way, nice cufflinks gentlemen!

Hayden, a supporter of waterboarding, dismissed criticism of the interrogation technique, saying "I don’t care . . .  This is a war . . . It’s about defense. It’s not about going through a judicial process.”  The Canadian reporter, Ms. Shephard, points out the incongruity of discussing ". . . waterboarding when seniors graze on buffets and younger, scantily clad passengers gyrate to a Cher tune nearby." 

Weird. 

 

Credits:

Wildenstein photo:   The Fort Morgan Times, Dan Barker, Times Staff Writer

Oprah and the biggest cruise cruise ship in the world:   Huffington Post

Spy Cruise photo:    Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star 

Does the Cruise Industry Monitor Crime in the Caribbean Ports of Call?

The latest crime against cruise passengers in the Caribbean occurred this week in the lovely island of St. Kitts when a busload of tourists from Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship were jacked up at gun point by masked robbers during an excursion.  The passengers on the Celebrity cruise ship had sailed down from Baltimore thinking that they were going to an idyllic island paradise.

In the last year, we have seen cruise passengers robbed or killed in Antigua, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, and St. Thomas.   I have written articles about the high crime rates in many St. Kitts - Crime in the Caribbeanof the Caribbean islands frequented by cruise lines - Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

The events which follow crimes like this unfold like clockwork.  The local tourism board proclaims that the crime is isolated.  The cruise lines pull out of the Caribbean port, at least temporarily, and divert their ships to other Caribbean ports which inevitably have experienced similar crimes against U.S. passengers.  The local police quickly make an arrest, even thought they probably wouldn't arrest anyone if the victim was a local resident as opposed to an American tourist.  And then the cruise lines return and off-load another 500,000 passengers a year with the hopeful don't-worry-be-happy assurances from the local Caribbean government officials and tourism members that everyone will be safe.

This script has been followed in this case, with Carnival and its subsidiary, Princess Cruises, temporarily pulling out of St. Kitts.  Princess is now calling on Antigua which has an even higher crime rate which includes a young American woman who was murdered ashore during a cruise on Star Clippers in January.  This is not lost on the tourism board of Antigua, as reflected in this article in a newspaper in Antigua - "Antigua to Benefit From Crime In St Kitts."   

But is anyone actually investigating the crime rates in these ports, rather than just flip-flopping from one dangerous port to another?  An interesting article from St. Kitts caught my eye early this morning - "Cruise Industry Security Consultants for St. Kitts to Check Safety of Passengers."  The article contains a quote from St. Kitts' Minister of Tourism:

"The Cruise Industry will be sending in two security consultants to do their own verification of what we have been telling them and to do their own assessments of certain areas. They will be hosted by the Security Forces and will meet with the relevant people to find out for themselves what the situation on the ground is and whether or not their guests are likely to be under attack constantly.”

So who are these mysterious cruise industry "security consultants?"  Unfortunately, the governments and local press in the Caribbean bend over backwards not to identify the specific cruise lines when passengers are victims of crimes.  We know that Carnival and Princess have pulled out, for a while, from St. Kitts.  Are these "security consultants" retained by Carnival?  The passengers who were robbed came from a Celebrity Cruises' ship.  Did Royal Caribbean, the parent company for Celebrity (which is still calling in St. Kitts), hire the consultants?   And exactly what are these security experts going to do?

One of the obligations cruise lines have toward passengers is to investigate the excursions and make certain that there are policies and procedures in place to protect the passengers.  Most of the time, the cruise lines do not vet the excursions or they conduct only a cursory investigation at best.  If the cruise industry is going to investigate St. Kitts, how about the Bahamas, Jamaica or Antigua which have a much higher crime rate and pose a greater danger to cruise passengers?

Is this really a legitimate security investigation by the "cruise industry?"  Or is this just a PR ploy designed to assuage the cruise passenger's fears about crime on this this impoverished Caribbean island and to keep U.S. dollars flowing to the billion dollar foreign flagged cruise industry? 

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

The Observer in St. Kitts-Nevis is reporting that cruise passengers on a tour bus were robbed this morning, apparently during an excursion from a cruise ship  - "Busload of Tourists Robbed at Gunpoint." 

The robbery reportedly occurred in the Sandy Point area on the island.  A "local tour bus of cruise passengers had been robbed at gunpoint along the island’s main road as the bus made its way to Brimestone Hill."

St. Kitts - Cruise Tour Bus RobberyThe tour bus is identified as the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus," which was being driven by owner Urban Herbert at the time of the incident.  While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path.  Mr. Herbert exited the bus to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

The newspaper reported that seventeen (17) passengers including an infant were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery.  The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items.  The police  released a statement that no one was physically injured.

As is often the case, the police did not release the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.  Local police and tourism bureaus in the Caribbean are very sensitive to bad press and avoid embarrassing the cruise lines on which they rely for the U.S. tourist dollar.   

It turns out that the passengers were from the Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship. 

The St. Kitts police / tourism people claim that crime like this is unheard of; however, another local newspaper SKNVibes reports in an article - "Tourists Robbed at Gunpoint Near Brimstone Hill" - that local taxi drivers state that this is nothing new and security needs to be improved, particularly when cruise ships arrive. 

I have written many articles about the high crime rates in many of the Caribbean islands frequented by cruise lines - Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers.  Consider the following articles in the last year alone: 

Antigua - Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet and Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Bahamas 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the BahamasEleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau, and Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

Guatemala - Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala  

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

St. Lucia - Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia and 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

St. Thomas - More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

 

Additional information: Tourism and Crime in the Caribbean  

December 3, 2010 Update:

"Visitors Warned About Safety in St. Kitts After Tourist Robbery"