Last week, a father of four cruising on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship died in Roatan during a stop in that port after he dove into the water from an elevated structure of a pier.

Edmund David Rucker, believed to be 52 years of age, was with his wife and family when the tragic accident occurred shortly after the Allure of the Seas ported in Roatan, Honduras during a one-week cruise which left Galveston on March 12, 2023.

The accident occurred on March 15th when Mr. Rucker dove from an elevated structure into the water below. The purpose of the platform is less than clear. The structure may have been previously used to support a zip line which was abandoned years ago. It is currently unknown why the dangerous structure was still available for use by tourists. Many other cruise passengers discussed on message boards that there were no warning signs in place.

Several people indicated that other accidents, including “multiple deaths in the same area,” had happened and that there should be warnings to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Mr. Rucker apparently struck his head below the water. Local news accounts indicate that he “suffered a severe blow to his head, and was left unconscious once his body fell into the sea. His relatives realized that after several minutes he did not come to the surface, so they alerted the authorities and other people who were swimming on the beach.”

We were first notified on the day of the accident by a guest on the Allure of the Seas who stated that Mr. Rucker’s body was brought aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship shortly before the ship left Roatan.

Deaths in international waters during cruises are governed by the Death On the High Seas Act (DOSHA) which limits the recovery to “pecuniary” damages suffered by dependent family members. Pain and suffering, grief and bereavement and other emotional losses are not permitted under DOSHA.

A local newspaper in Texas commented that Mr.Rucker, known as “Eddie,” was a beloved father of four children and the loving husband to his wife Laura.

A Go Fund Me page has been established for the Rucker family. Please consider donating to this family.

Have a comment or questions? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

March 23, 2023 Update: Newsweek covered the accident: Cruise Ship Passenger Dies After Jump Into Water Goes Wrong

Image credit: Abandoned zip line – Diario del Aguán; family photo – Go Fund Me page

An Instagram post effectively raises the question whether cruise lines inform other companies when they terminate the employment of a crew member for misconduct. Many crew members work for a variety of cruise employers over the years. It is not uncommon for a ship employee to work for just a few years for say, Carnival Cruise Line, before switching to Royal Caribbean, NCL, HAL or Princess.

Two weeks ago, we commented on an article published by Inside the Magic (“ITM”) titled “Passengers Catch Cruise Line Employee Filming Women In Children’s Bathroom” about a male MSC crew member caught filming women in what was described as a “woman’s bathroom near the Kid’s Club” on the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship. You can read our blog post here: MSC Cruises Crew Member Caught Filming Women in Bathroom.

Yesterday, internet provocateur @TizzyEnt re-posted a video originally posted by Saja on TicTok and made a couple of points perfectly clear:

A MSC crew member was caught by a guest video taping her in a woman’s bathroom near the Kid’s Club. Reportedly, this was the fourth such incident that evening alone. There is no indication that MSC responded to the three earlier incidents and it appears that the company was not interested in this fourth episode. It was not until another guest aggressively knocked on the bathroom stall that he crew member finally reveal himself and admit his wrongdoing. The crew member was not arrested. It is unknown whether MSC reported the crime to either the FBI or state law enforcement or police in Port Canaveral where the cruise originated. MSC Cruises then sent the crew member to his home country.

The main point of the video was there’s no indication that MSC Cruises took any steps to make certain that the former employee does not end up employed on another cruise ship operated by a different cruise line.

In our experience over the last thirty-five years, cruise lines do not share information with each other when crew members commit crimes against guests. The typical scenario is that the cruise line fires the employee and sends him back to this home country without consequence.

Neither does the cruise line trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), facilitate the sharing of information when a crew member rapes a guest, despite the likelihood that he will simply apply for a job on a competing cruise line when he arrives back home.

@TizzyEnt asks MSC Cruises the following questions:

What steps are being taken to make sure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen on your cruise line again?

What steps have been taken to make sure this guy not only doesn’t have access to your guests on your cruise ships but doesn’t have access to other cruise lines either?

What steps have you taken to make sure other companies are aware of his behavior?

There is no indication that MSC confiscated the crew member’s phone to determine how many other guests and their children were secretly photographed or videotaped by the deviant ship employee.

We have seen at least one crew member who assaulted our client, a cruise guest, apply for a job as a bartender on a competing cruise line after the first cruise line sent him home after the rape. Princess Cruises accepted the fired employee’s application to work on a Princess cruise ship sailing from the port of Miami. He returned to serving drinks to guests, obviously emboldened by being able to rape a guest with impunity. Princess terminated his job only after I informed Princess’ general counsel that it had hired a rapist, who obviously failed to accurately disclose that he was terminated from his prior job when we filed suit for the shipboard rape.

MSC Cruises has been in the news lately after a crew member raped a cruise guest on the MSC Meraviglia, the same ship as in this video voyeurism case. Today, there were reports that a crew member raped a fellow ship employee on the MSC Seashore.

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Image credit: New York Post

On Monday, we reported that Carnival Cruise Line reported a “suspicious death” involving a woman aboard the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship. The guest was traveling with her husband when, according to local newspaper, Channel 5 WCSC, Carnival crew members were made aware of an unresponsive woman on Feb. 27th and attempted life-saving measures, but the woman was pronounced dead on the ship.

46 U.S. Code § 3507 (The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010) requires cruise lines to report “homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, any (sexual) offense to which section 2241, 2242, 2243, or 2244(a) or (c) of title 18 applies, firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000 …”

Pursuant to this statute, Carnival reported the cruise passenger’s death on it ships as a “suspicious death.”

When the Carnival cruise ship returned to its home port in Charleston, the FBI boarded the ship and, among other investigation, began interviewing passengers who were in adjacent cabins on the ship.

Carnival’s PR team here in Miami then released a rather bizarre public statement stating that the suspicious death had already been allegedly investigated in the Bahamas. It added:

“… We are fully cooperating. This is a matter for authorities in The Bahamas and Charleston and we have no further comments.

The truth is that suspicious deaths and crimes against U.S. nationals is squarely within the “special maritime jurisdiction” of the FBI to investigate and it not remotely just a “matter for authorities in the Bahamas.” The fact of the matter is that the Bahamas has little interest, experience or skill in investigating and prosecuting crimes on cruise ships involving U.S. And I am not aware of a single crime on a cruise ship successfully investigated and prosecuted by the Bahamas.

The local police in Charleston, South Carolina has absolutely no jurisdiction to either investigate or prosecute crime on cruise ships.

I have also never seen a PR statement by Carnival Cruise Line or its parent company, Carnival Corporation, ending with “we have no further comments,” especially followed up with a statement which completely contradicts its earlier statement.

Less than twenty-four after its “no further comments” statement, and after reporting a “suspicious death” on its cruise ship, Carnival then claimed in a new PR statement that the guest’s death was “natural.” CBS News promptly reported on this obvious inconsistency between initially reporting a “suspicious death” (which was being investigated by the Bahamas) and then belatedly stating that the Carnival guest “likely died from natural causes.”

CNN also noted that the FBI processed the dead passenger’s room for evidence when the cruise ship returned to Charleston, commenting that “FBI investigating ‘suspicious death’ on Carnival cruise ship, but cruise line says death appears to be “natural.” Carnival also felt obligated to claim that its “initial emergency medical response was appropriate and it appears that this was indeed a medical situation that sadly resulted in the death of a guest.”  

Further adding to the conflict between Carnival initial statement that the suspicious death was a matter for the authorities in the Bahamas and it a “natural death” notwithstanding appropriate medical treatment was the fact that the FBI obtained two search warrants of the dead woman’s cabin on the Carnival cruise ship and the couple’s automobile based on “evidence of a crime.” Local Fox News affiliate Live 5 News reported:

Two search warrants were filed on Wednesday, one to search the cabin where a woman was found unresponsive on the Carnival Cruise Sunshine and the other to search of a Volkswagen Jetta with North Carolina plates, also on the basis of evidence of a crime.

The search warrants were obtained from a Magistrate Molly Cherry in federal district court in Charleston, South Carolina (case number 2:23-cr-00140-MHC) in the case styled USA v, Carnival Sunshine Stateroom 6271 and Volkswagen Jetta bearing NNC tag HKN 9663. The U.S. attorneys filed a motion to seal the affidavit in support of the search warrants (which was granted) because “there is reason to believe that disclosure of the information in these documents would seriously jeopardize the investigation including by giving targets the opportunity to destroy or tamper with evidence, change patterns of behavior, flee from prosecution, intimidate cooperating and potential witnesses, and endanger the safety of law enforcement and other individuals.”

The only portion of the file not under seal was the search warrant stating that it was based on “evidence of a crime.”

Federal district court judges and magistrates do not authorize search warrants or seal court files in cases of “natural death.” As Carnival flip-flops its PR statements between a suspicious death and a natural demise, thank heavens that the FBI and U.S. attorneys are treating this case seriously by interviewing witnesses, obtaining search warrants, and investigating the potential crime scene in the cabin where the guest died.

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Image credit: Carnival Sunshinelive5news

The number of people infected with gastrointestinal illness aboard the Ruby Princess increased to over 300 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC).

We previously reported that the CDC initially indicated that at least two-hundred and nineteen passengers and crew became ill, experiencing vomiting and diarrhea aboard Princess Cruises’ ship, Ruby Princess, which docked in Galveston, Texas. At that time, the CDC reported that 199 of 2,881 (6.61%) passengers and 20 of 1,159 (1.73%) of the crew members reported ill.

The CDC now states that 284 of 2881 passengers (9.9%) and 34 of 1159 crew members (2.9%) were infected with the illness.

Princess Cruises, in an emailed statement shared with WBTW News 13, said it thinks the “likely” culprit was norovirus which can cause acute gastroenteritis.

We have been contacted by many guests who were on the cruise stating that the number of people infected is actually higher than the official count.

One guest commented:

“Many on ship did not report or see doctor. Count is much higher. People are unsure if they will be charged to see doctor, become ill and simply can’t leave room, take medicines bought by going ashore . . . so do not want to wait in line to see doctor. I was sick on ship and did not report. All you want to do is stay in room and sleep. Hard to stay hydrated etc.”

Another passenger stated:

“I was on that ship. There were a lot more passengers sick. There were three in our group and when we called to report all of us, they only took the report on me. A lot of people didn’t report so they wouldn’t be isolated.”

Another said:

“Agreed . . . out of our party of 7, 4 of us got it and it was horrible.”

CBS News reports that the Ruby Princess has since embarked new passengers on a new voyage. The latest group of passengers, currently on another seven-day Caribbean cruise, were informed about the increased illnesses on the previous trip. (Of course, it was too late to cancel or reschedule the cruise).

The CDC has still not determined the “causative factor” for the outbreak. According to the CDC and FDA, the most likely cause for cruise ship GI outbreaks is contaminated water or food.

We suggest reading Norovirus Nightmare: Cruise Industry Plays the “Blame-the-Passenger” Game.

Have a question or comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

March 10, 2023 Update:

The Washington Post did its usual coverage of this issue. Reader comments alone are worth reading.

Image Credit: Ruby Princess – KHOU-13 video screengrab “CDC: More than 300 people reported sickness during Galveston-based cruise.”

A newspaper in South Carolina, Channel 5 WCSC, reported this evening that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating a “suspicious death” involving a woman aboard the Carnival Sunshine cruise ship. According to this local newspaper, the guest was traveling with her husband when:

Crew members of Carnival Cruise Sunshine were made aware of an unresponsive woman on Feb. 27 . . . staff attempted life-saving measures, but the woman was pronounced dead on the ship.

Carnival disembarked the deceased guest and her husband to Nassau, where the local Bahamas Police Department conducted an investigation of sort.

Carnival released a cursory public relation release which did not provide any useful information about what happened to the woman:

The FBI joined Carnival Sunshine upon its return to Charleston yesterday morning to conduct an investigation into the death of a guest. Both the deceased and her husband were debarked in Nassau and Bahamian authorities have already investigated the circumstances and are conducting an autopsy. We are fully cooperating. This is a matter for authorities in The Bahamas and Charleston and we have no further comments.

We will provide additional information when we learn what happened to this woman.

Have a comment or question? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

March 6, 2023 Update: Newsweek covered the story,

Image credit: Michael Au – flickr CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

At least two-hundred and nineteen passengers and crew became ill, experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, from a gastrointestinal illness aboard Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess which has returned this morning to Galveston, Texas following a cruise to the Caribbean.

199 of 2,881 (6.61%) of the passengers reported ill during the cruise, as well as 20 of 1,159 (1.73%) of the crew members on the ship.

The Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) has not come to a conclusion as to the “causative agent” behind these gastrointestinal illnesses (GI). The CDC data regarding this GI outbreak indicates that “epidemiologists and environmental health officers” are now boarding ship to begin an investigation once the cruise ship is back in a U.S. port.

The Ruby Princess was the site of an early major outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia when infected passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney in 2020. At least 900 passengers and crew later tested positive for COVID-19, and 28 people died.

There have been four GI outbreaks on cruise ships which meet the CDC’s reporting requirements in 2023, including the cases on the Ruby Princess. Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas and the Brilliance of the Seas had GI outbreaks in late January of 2023 involving a total of around one-hundred and fifty passengers and crew. Over 100 passengers and crew members on P&O Cruises’ Arcadia experienced vomiting and diarrhea which the CDC attributed to norovirus. The CDC could not determine the “causative agent” for the GI outbreak on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Unfortunately, the CDC is never able to conclude the precise mechanism of infection regarding shipboard outbreaks like this even if they eventually determine that norovirus was involved. I am not aware of a single time when the CDC has pinpointed the precise cause of a cruise ship disease GI outbreak. The public is left with the “blame game” of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated, or the outbreak was caused by a sick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene and poor cleaning procedures.

Several years ago, Time magazine published an article entitled The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships. The overall winner of Time’s top 13 list was Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) with 396 ill; Crown Princess (February 2012) – 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) – 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) – 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) – 216.

 Princess and Holland America Line historically have the sickest cruise ships in the cruise industry’s fleet.

If the cruise lines don’t flat out accuse the passengers of being the problem, there will always be an implication that the passengers must not have washed their hands.

The amazing thing about the cruise industry is the frenzy activity when the ships come to port. A tremendous amount of provisions are brought aboard at every port, literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish as well as every fruit and vegetable under the sun. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are pumped into the ship. The crew members get on and off the ship and of course the passengers do as well.

Was the food and/or water served to passengers on the ship contaminated? Did the passengers or crew eat contaminated food ashore?  Were the hands of a crew member involved in food preparation infected?

Proving exactly how the virus appears on a cruise ship is a difficult scientific process. But no one is engaged in such testing. Yes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) test to determine whether the gastrointestinal illness is due to noro or e-coli, but that’s where the testing stops.

Whoever is to blame, the crew members, of course, always pay the price, by having to wipe and scrub and spray everything in sight for long 12+ hour days to try to disinfect a ship longer than three football fields.

Irrespective of the blame-game, don’t call us if you get sick on a cruise. Proving where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can’t even figure out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus, e-coli or something as exotic as shigella sonnei or cyclospora cayetanensis

Have a comment or question? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

We suggest reading Norovirus Nightmare: Cruise Industry Plays the “Blame-the-Passenger” Game.

March 8, 2023 Update:

Travel Weekly (Australia) coved the story and cited Cruise Law News:

March 8, 2023 Update:

The CDC now reports that there were over 300 passengers and crew members infected during the cruise.


Inside the Magic (“ITM”) published an article yesterday titled “Passengers Catch Cruise Line Employee Filming Women In Children’s Bathroom” about a male MSC crew member caught filming women in what was described as a “woman’s bathroom near the Kid’s Club” on an unidentified MSC cruise ship. The article explains:

“One passenger, Saja, shared a TikTok video of the moment she and other passengers confronted an MSC Group employee for hiding in a women’s bathroom stall near the Kid’s Club and recording them:

Saja alerted a housekeeping employee, who knocked on the door of the stall the man was in and attempted to lure him out. But the man remained silent. It wasn’t until a brave female passenger stood up, said, ‘Okay, why don’t we do this?’ and knocked loudly, imitating housekeeping, that the man opened the door.

‘I was wrong,’ the man said. He was wearing an MSC employee uniform.

‘You need to call security because he’s an employee’,” the woman told the housekeeping staff member.

‘I didn’t know; I just saw a camera pointing at me,’ Saja explained.”

The passenger later explained that after the crew member (wearing his name tag) was reported to ship security, he was eventually “deported.”


This man was in the women’s restroom located at the kids club. Please don’t leave your children unattended on any vacation & be aware of your surroundings at all times. #cruise #cruiseshipcrew

♬ original sound – Saja 🇵🇸

Although the passenger who posted the TicToc video was quick to state that she had a “great experience” on the cruise and did not wish to embarrass MSC Cruises, she wanted to warn women to be “be aware of their circumstances at all times, vacations included.”

After seeing this video, here are a few observations worth considering:

Sexual voyeurism occurs on cruise ships just like in other public accommodations (hotels, bathrooms, etc.). 18 U.S. Code § 1801 (“Video Voyeurism”) states that it is a crime to have “the intent to capture an image of a private area of an individual without their consent . . .” (and the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy).

Several years ago, a couple and their 10 year-old child went on a three-day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Mobile. On the last evening of the cruise, to their shock and horror, they discovered a small video camera hidden in the bundled cables, behind the television in their cabin, which pointed toward their bed. When they reported the presence of the recording device to ship security, Carnival down played the incident, after disassembling the device, and did not timely notify either the FBI or state law enforcement.

When crew members commit crimes like this, there is rarely criminal accountability. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) rarely arrest the perpetrator. The cruise line usually terminates the crew member’s employment and flies the ship employees home after the crime.

Have a comment or question? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Saja on TicTok

March 3, 2023 Update:

Crew Center reports that the incident occurred on the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship.

The New York Post was one of several newspapers which covered this story. The TicTok video reportedly has been viewed over ten millions times to date.

Today, a Royal Caribbean crew member sent me a photograph of the soot-stained deck of the Wonder of the Seas with the following comments:

“This photo of black soot is taken on open deck of the Wonder of the Seas cruise ship. Working on open deck, I’m exposed to this constantly. At least 2 times a week, even more soot is taking place all over open decks especially on aft areas. Soot is coming on our skin and into some colleagues eyes as it dropping down without any control. It is cleaned by us employees just with water & without any PPE (personal protective equipment). Environmental officers are ignoring health impacts on guests & crew. Especially on crew as we are constantly exposed to this and are concerned with long term effects. Only concern of officers is to have ship appear to be clean; the only problem they see is soot going on guests clothes. I believe this must be solved.”

Faced with this disturbing information, I immediately realized that this crew member had few options to resolve the employee’s predicament of working under such hazardous conditions. If the crew member articulated his concerns to a supervisor, the ship employee faced the likely prospect of being ignored with a distinct chance of being punished or, at a minimum, simply told to do the job or quit and go home.

Of course, I readily agreed to keep the crew member’s identity anonymous, failing which the employee would certainly be fired. I posted the image on our Cruise Law Twitter feed. One environmentally aware Twitter user which I follow, Seattle Cruise Control, retweeted my posting and added the fact that:

“Particulate matter is the #1 cause of environmental-related early death. Passengers, crew, & port communities are all exposed to this & other toxins/carcinogens.”

In May of last year, I posted an article about the Wonder of the Seas arriving in Palma de Mallorca billowing a think cloud of black smoke from its stacks.  The reality of this mega cruise ship belching out a huge plume of smoke over the Mediterranean port contrasted sharply with Royal Caribbean’s over-the-top marketing of the largest cruise ship in the world, which it touts as the “World’s Newest Wonder” containing two “advanced emission purification systems” which allegedly “remove 98% of sulfur emissions.”

A number of residents joined in retweeting the photos of the huge polluting cruise ship, with comments such as “The largest cruise ship on the planet arrives. The first thing it does is release a toxic cloud on Palma. They pollute, overcrowd, reduce health and pay tribute to tax havens . . . ”

The local newspaper, Diario de Mallorca, chronicled the protest in an article titled: The Megacruise ‘Wonder of the Seas’ in Palma: They Denounce the “Cloud of Toxic Smoke” Over the City. The newspaper reported that The Wonder of the Seas belongs to the latest generation of cruise ships that is characterized by its “gigantism.” It measures 64 meters wide by 362 meters long, a tonnage of 230,000 tons and can accommodate over 9,000 people (6,988 guests and a crew of 2,3000.

Cruise ships are a major source of air pollution which causes and/or contributes to a wide range of serious health problems such as respiratory ailments, lung disease, cancer and premature deaths. The pollutants from ship engines exhaust gases include sulfur oxides (SOx) as well as non-combustible particulate matter and black carbon.

Heavy fuel oil (HFO), sometimes referred to as bunker fuel, has historically been a low cost favorite of cruise ships. HFO has tar-like consistency which results from the residue of crude oil distillation. HFO is contaminated with several different compounds including sulfur and nitrogen, which makes HFO emissions far more toxic compared to low sulfur fuels.

Bunker fuel cannot be used without incombustible particles flying all over the place – not unlike burning a tire – with the residue burrowing deep into the mucous membranes of your lungs. It should be considered to be a public nuisance and banned as such. No one reading this article would burn bunker fuel in their house, or subject their neighbors to this toxic pollutant. Bunker fuel is the nastiest and most toxic fuel you can use. But this fuel is the cornerstone of the cruise industry.

The smoke billowing from the Wonder of the Seas appears not unlike the pollution we have seen from other large cruise ships, like the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seaswhich was videotaped in 2019 belching smoke while leaving the port of St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 

This is obviously not just a problem with Royal Caribbean giant ships like the Wonder of the Seas. Over the years we have received a fair amount of complaints from cruise passengers on other brands who point out that they have learned not to place towels or clothing on their balconies at the aft of the ship because of stains from soot from the ships’ stacks.

Crew members of course do not have the luxury of closing balcony doors and choosing to stay away from the pollution. Ship employees must be equipped with appropriate personal protective gear (masks/ respirators, googles and gloves) if they are ordered to be involved in cleaning up the continuous toxic emissions covering the decks of these monster, polluting ships.

Have a comment or question? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Wonder of the Seas –  from the Noticaribe Facebook page)

A fire broke out on the Viking Orion cruise ship yesterday morning. Approximately 600 people on board were reportedly evacuated from the cruise ship around 8:10 a.m. Crew members quickly extinguished he fire which impacted three cabins.

Photos of the cruise ship showed black smoke billowing out of one of the ship’s windows.

There were no injuries to either cruise guests or crew member.

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Image credit: NCA NewsWire via

Atlantis Events advertises its upcoming “Largest Gay Cruise in History” aboard the “incredible Harmony of the Seas” as the “most outrageously fun cruise Atlantis has ever created! . . . a star-studded festival of pure fun and excitement unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.” Scheduled for February 4th to 12th, the cruise promises “8 fabulous nights packed full of awe-inspiring parties, superstar performers, great friends, and endless surprises.”

Atlantis Events also promises that “every moment on an Atlantis cruise is an opportunity to share, be it your name, your story, costume, or something a bit more scandalous.”

Last year, the New York Times published an article by Ceylan Yeginsu quoting an Atlantis Events’ partygoer saying “this is going to be the wildest party for our community in two years. I’m talking dirty dancing, sex, drugs, raves, orgies . . . ” But this year, Atlantis has a new rule it threatens to enforce. In an email recently sent to the over 5,000 guests who are booked on the cruise, it claims that it will disembark (without refund) any guest who publishes any photos or videos of “anything explicitly sexual on social media.”

Atlantis Events’ New Social Media Policy

Atlantis has apparently tried to modify its terms and condition via an email which states:

“Important – New Social Media Policy – While we want everyone to have fun, there are limits and so we ask that you be respectful of all guests and our cruise partners. Please do not post anything explicitly sexual on social media in a public forum or other online space. Any guest who posts or publishes an explicit and publicly visible photo or video will be asked to leave the ship with no refund. This also applies to any private media posts (whether or not behind a paywall) that identify or could identify either Atlantis, our vendor brands, their properties, or any other guests with or without permission. We take this seriously and have a team of volunteers monitoring most sites. Thank you for understanding and keeping Atlantis friendly!”

The person who sent me this email asks rhetorically “wouldn’t one think keeping Atlantis friendly would mean banning public drug use rather than trying to ban people from photographing and posting public sex?”

An Ugly History of Overdoses, Arrests and Death Due to Drugs

A good questions I suppose considering that medical emergencies (often drug overdoses) are not uncommon on Royal Caribbean cruises chartered by Atlantis Events. For that matter, Atlantis Events cruises have been plagued by drug use, passengers going overboard and drug-related shipboard deaths over the years.

The last ten years have involved numerous overdoses, arrests and at least five drug-related deaths on Royal Caribbean cruises chartered to Atlantis:

Last year, a guest attending the Atlantis Events cruise aboard the Oasis of the Sea died as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was heading to Mexico due to drug use complicated by inadequate medical care.

In February 2019, federal agents arrested two men trying to board the Allure of the Seas at PortMiami for possession of a large quantity of drugs which they were intending to sell on the cruise ship which had been chartered by Atlantis Events. Local News 10  reported that after the men arrived at PortMiami, a drug sniffing canine alerted its handler to their luggage which contained MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, Viagra, Adderall and GHB.

In January 2018, Storm Chasers’ star Joel Taylor died of a suspected overdose on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, which had been chartered by Atlantis Events. According to TMZ and other tabloid websites, passengers on the Royal Caribbean ship stated that “drugs on the party boat were plentiful.” Rosie Spinks, a talented reporter who worked for Quartz at that time, reported on Mr. Taylor’s drug death in an article titled A Reality Star’s Death Exposed the Dangerous Party Culture on Gay Cruises.

In February 2012, an Atlantis Events attendee went overboard from the Allure of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean. His body was never recovered and he is presumed to be dead. (There was no clear indication that the overboard was directly related to drug use on the ship).

Shortly before the Royal Caribbean/Atlantis 20th Anniversary cruise in February 2011, I questioned Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World’s Largest Gay Cruise?  I asked why Royal Caribbean tolerated the widespread use of drugs on its ships during Atlantis Events cruise parties.

A week later,  cruise passenger, Barry Krumholz, was arrested for selling large quantities of ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, ketamine and other drugs aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas chartered by Atlantis Events. There were reportedly a half-dozen drug overdoses during the cruise.

In 2010, there was another passenger death on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events. There was widespread discussion regarding the use of drugs during Atlantis Events sponsored events.

In 2009, a passenger died after he reportedly took drugs during a cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship which had been chartered for the use of Atlantis Events. Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers and a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (“GLAAD”), died on the Mariner of the Seas. The medical care was described by party goers as delayed and haphazard.

Can and Will the New Social Media Policy Be Enforced?

The irony is that Atlantis Events requires all guests to agree to authorize the “full unencumbered right in perpetuity and throughout the universe to use your photograph, image, name and likeness in video, and voice in any media of any of kind now known or hereinafter devised, including the right to assign and authorize your photograph, your image, name and likeness in video, for Atlantis’ promotion, advertising or any other lawful purposes, without limitations, at Atlantis’s sole discretion . . . “

In other word, Atlantis Events can use photos or video of guests however it sees fit but guests cannot post photos or videos of what actually happens on the cruise.

From a legal perspective, it is questionable that a concessionaire can legally impose new rules (in addition to the terms and conditions in a cruise ticket which is considered to be the legally binding contract with guests), via an email, sent after the guests had already booked their cruises.

It is also questionable whether an entertainment concessionaire, as opposed to the captain and/or vessel owner/operator, has the legal authority to force a passenger from the cruise ship in a foreign port (the cruise includes Haiti, Aruba and Curacao).

As a practical matter, it also seems difficult for either Atlantis Events or Royal Caribbean to actually enforce this new social media policy despite Atlantis’ claims of a “team of volunteers monitoring most sites.”

The question is not just why Atlantis Events thought that it should try to prevent posting of sexually explicit photos and video of this sexually charged public event in such an amateurish, last-minute way. The real question is why has Atlantis Events has not made at least an equal effort to prevent the use of recreational party drugs which have claimed so many lives during these type of cruises.

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Image credit: Atlantis Events and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

February 1, 2023 Update:

With the Atlantis Events – Royal Caribbean “largest gay party in the world” (on Harmony of the Seas fast approaching (on Feb 4th), it’s time to re-read Should Atlantis Events come with a warning label? by the Los Angeles Blade.

“Circuit party cruises, drugs & obfuscation (mixed together on a cruise ship registered in the Bahamas and operated by a line incorporated in Liberia) – you worried?”

Stay tuned . . .

February 7, 2023 Update:

Today BuzzFeed News covered this story: