A Florida man, who reportedly works on Disney cruise ships for Disney Vacation Club, was arrested last week after a 13 year-old girl told her mother that he raped her dozens of time at his home, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Sentinel stated that 53 year-old Keith Seitz reportedly molested the little girl at his home, beginning when she was 10.  Starting when she was 11, he reportedly raped her “over 100 times.”

The child told Orange County Sheriff’s officials that Seitz also took photos of her while she was naked and stored them on his phone “for when he’s on the cruise ship,” according to arrest records.

During an interview last week with the sheriff’s office, the child’s mother said that Seitz was at sea on a cruise ship scheduled to dock in Miami the next day, according to the Orlando newspaper.

Seitz is being held without bail in Orange County jail. Disney reportedly stated that it placed Seitz on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal charges.

The newspapers covering the arrest have not explained Seitz’s job responsibilities on the Disney cruise ships. There is also no explanation of the relationship between Seitz and the girl’s mother.

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Photo credit: Top – Orange County Public Records; bottom – Tri-County Busts.

A radio program in Sydney, Australia, the Alan Jones radio show, is reporting that Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Vasco Da Gama (formerly the P&O Pacific Eden) lost power to its engines in the Gulf of St. Vincent off Adelaide, Australia earlier today.

The radio station 2GB’s Steve Price spoke to passengers onboard, who reportedly said:
  • Approximately 900 passengers are onboard the stricken ship. 
  • The ship is running on auxiliary power only with minimal or no engine power – drifting “in circles.”
  • Lights are working, but not toilets. No power for cooking – restaurants are closed.
  • Reception staff have not been told anything to update passengers. Passengers are wandering around the ship not knowing what’s going on and very little information was being given to them.
  • Ship is close to Adelaide, but apparently many passengers expect to miss flights out of Adelaide.

You can listen to a a passenger’s graphic account here. “We’re drifting. We’ve got no power, no water, no toilets, no cooking, nothing! . . . The ship’s just going around in circles, it’s being blown around by light breezes. We’re just completely buggered.”

9 News Adelaime has posted an image on Twitter of the cruise ship:

No official statement yet from the ship’s owners Cruise and Maritime Voyages. 

If you have a comment or question, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: We received the following statement from CMV:

“Further to your story posted online, find below an update on Vasco da Gama.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) cruise ship MV Vasco da Gama went into a controlled precautionary blackout early this morning at approx 0545hrs whilst sailing in the vicinity of the Port of Adelaide. Local authorities were notified of the incident as a precaution by the ship’s Captain.

An alarm light on the engine control room’s panel led the vessel’s officers to initiate a controlled blackout as a precaution against damage to systems onboard and in order to investigate the alarm.

All precautionary post-incidents checks were completed with no causes for concern identified. Power was fully restored later in the morning and the vessel resumed sailing towards the port of Adelaide per its scheduled itinerary.

The 55,877 GRT Vasco da Gama is currently on a East Coast Discovery cruise with 828 passengers on board. The ship has an excellent record of reliability and all passengers on board were kept informed of the technical problem experienced.”

Photo Credit: Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Vasco Da Gama (via CMV)

Cruise ships reportedly experienced an “unprecedented crime wave” this summer, with 35 sexual assaults involving 27 passengers. The majority of such sexual crimes occurred on Carnival Cruise Line ships, according to the New York Post which reviewed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest cruise crime statistical compilation published last week.

Carnival Cruise Line has More Sexual Assaults than any other Cruise Line with a Comparable Fleet

When compared to Royal Caribbean, the only other cruise line with a comparable sized fleet, Carnival Cruise Line led the cruise industry in sexual assaults against passengers.  According to the DOT cruise crime statistics the breakdown of sexual assaults for the last quarter is as follows:

  • Carnival: 20 sexual assault victims (17 passengers).
  • Royal Caribbean: 8 sexual assault victims (4 passengers).

Carnival currently has the same number of cruise ships as Royal Caribbean (26 ships each). But Royal Caribbean has far more passengers than Carnival at any given time. Royal Caribbean has a maximum of around 125,000 passengers. Carnival Cruise Line has a maximum of around 75,000 passengers.

There have been over 100 sexual assaults on cruise ships in the last 12 months, according to the DOT crime data which breaks down as follows:

  • Carnival Cruise Line: 43 sexual assault victims (37 passengers).
  • Royal Caribbean: 31 sexual victims (20 passengers).

Given the higher number of sexual assaults on Carnival ships and the lower average of total passengers on that brand (compared to Royal Caribbean), passengers are statistically more likely to be the victim of a sexual assault on a Carnival ship than any other cruise line.

Carnival Cruise Ships Have a Higher Per Capita Sexual Assault Rate than California and New York

Cruise line crime statistics first became public after Congress passed the 2010 Cruise Security and Safety Act into law. In the Congressional hearings leading up to the new law, cruise industry representatives from the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) tried to water down the per capita crime rates by presenting data to Congress based on the total number of passengers who had sailed on cruise ships over the course of a year.

CLIA argued that per capita cruise ship crime rates should be based on the total number of people cruising in any year (around 30,000,000 cruised this year) rather than the average number of people populating cruise ships on any given day.  By analogy, the per capita crime statistics for U.S. cities are calculated based on the number of residents in a city. Tourists who visit the city during the year are not counted as residents. Imagine how the crime statistics for New York City would be diluted if instead of calculating crime rates based on the number of residents in the city (approximately 8 million), this number was inflated to include each of the more than 60 million people who visit the city annually.

Congress rejected CLIA’s argument and concluded that per capita cruise crime statistics should be calculated based on the average number of passengers sailing at a particlar time, not on the annual number of passengers.

Using Congress’ methodology to determine sexual assault rate results in a per capita rate for Carnival Cruise Line of nearly 40 (39.6) per 100,000.  This number is calculted by taking the number of sexual assaults on Carnival ships reported to the FBI in the last 12 months (43), and dividing it by the total number of people on Carnival’s fleet of ships (around 75,000 passengers and approximately 33,500 crew members for a total of 108,500).

The per capita rate of sexual assaults on Carnival ships of 40 per 100,000 is significant. It is a higher per capita rate than twenty states, including California, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia (and over a dozen other states).

The per capita sexual assault rate of 40 per 100,000 on Carnival ships may actually be higher than this. These calculations assume that Carnival cruise ships are sailing at maximum capacity. Additionally, the definition of sexual assault under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act is very restrictive and includes only a relatively small portion of the acts which would be deemed to constitute a sexual assault ashore. There has also been widespread criticism that the cruise lines often under-report the crimes which occur on their ships.

And of course, Carnival’s high sexual assault rate on its ships is not occurring in a state with high crime areas where there are gangs and “bad areas of town” but is occurring during what should be a relaxing, vacation get-away.

Too Much Booze on the “Fun Ships” and No Independent Law Enforcement

During an interview earlier this year with Sun Online, I stated that “we see a direct correlation between excessive alcohol served on cruises and violence, in general, and sexual violence against women, in particular.  Bartenders and waiters on cruise ships often receive tips and gratuities and are motivated to sell excessive amounts of alcohol in order to earn a living. There is no independent police force on these increasingly huge cruise ships. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse in what is often a lawless environment.”

Few Prosecutions in Federal Court

A small percentage of sexual crimes against women at sea are prosecuted by the U.S. federal government. I attended a hearing in 2007 before Congress regarding cruise ship crime where a senior FBI official testified that only 7% of sexual assaults on cruise ships are prosecuted in federal court.

The U.S. federal court has jurisdiction only when the assailant and/or victim is a U.S. national. Given the fact that there are few U.S. citizens working on cruise ships, unless the victim is a U.S. national the FBI will not become involved.

The state of Florida also has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes at sea on cruise ships which depart from ports in Florida. Florida is the only state which has such jurisdiction.  A sexual assault which takes place on a ship leaving from a port in Florida and is investigated by various police agencies in Florida has a higher likelihood of being prosecuted compared to a similar crime investigated by the FBI.

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Photo credits: Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunshine – Jim Walker

We suggest reading – Business Insider Sexual Assault is the Most Common Crime Reported on Cruise Ships.

Yesterday, we received information from a passenger aboard Holland America Line’s Volendam that the cruise ship ran aground on a sandbar on the Amazon River between Macapá and Santarém in Brazil.

The passenger, who did not wish to be identified, is a retired Coast Guard officer. He stated:

Volendam ran aground on a sandbar in the Amazon River this morning around 4:15 AM. It took seven hours to inspect for damage, hull integrity and they finally got going after shifting ballast to no avail and finally draining the forward pool. No damages and the ship got off the sandbar OK. We were five hours late arriving in Santarem for a more thorough inspection. The two pilots onboard reportedly said, ‘This wasn’t here last week!’ This is typical of the Amazon especially during low water season. All is well it seems.”

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received similar information from a passenger on the HAL ship:

“We are about 50 miles from Santarem near Monte Alegre on the Amazon River.  We have been grounded since 4:22am 11/29/2019 on a mud bank. It’s  now 8:48am local time. The first attempt to self power ourselves off the mud was unsuccessful.  Another attempt will be made.  If unsuccessful; tugs will be called in. All passengers are safe; per the Captain, there has been no breech of the hull. UPDATE: As of 11:24am we are free and heading upriver.  No news about schedule changes.”

The Volendam is on a 30 days cruise, having left Ft. Lauderdale on November 20th. It sailed through the Caribbean and will cruise to several additional ports in Brazil before sailing back to Ft. Lauderdale through the Caribbean.

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Photo credit: Amazon River – HAL

Last Monday, the FBI arrested a NCL cruise passenger in Port Canaveral at the end of a cruise to the Bahamas on charges of transporting child pornography.

Michael Harrison was traveling aboard the Norwegian Sun on a four day cruise to the Bahamas (Grand Stirrup Cay and Nassau) which departed from Port Canaveral on November 14, 2019 and returned to that port on November 18th.

The criminal complaint and FBI affidavit filed in federal case no. 6:19-mj-01826 in the Middle District of Florida in Orleando reveal that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) performed what it is calling a routine records check of the cruise ship manifest which revealed that Mr. Harrison is a registered sex offender in the state of Nevada who was convicted of a lewd act on a child in the State of California.

When the Norwegian Sun returned to Port Canaveral, the CBP searched Mr. Harrison’s luggage and electronic equipment and found child pornography involving boys as young as thirteen and forteen years of age on his laptop computer. The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and the FBI then responded to the cruise terminal and reportedly found additional videos of child pornography on Harrison’s computer, including images of a girl as young as ten to eleven years old.

Harrison reportedly admitted to the FBI agent that he previously downloaded pornographic videos of children from the internet and transported the images on his computer on the cruise.

He also allegedly stated to the FBI and BCSO agents and that he downloaded and watched pornographic videos of underage children “to keep himself from trying to have sex with an underage child again.”

The FBI arrested Harrison on charges that he violated Title 18 U.S.C.  2252 A(1)(a) which prohibits a person “from knowingly mailing, or transporting or shipping using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means, including by computer, any child pornography.”

Newsweek reported that Nevada’s Sex Offender public website shows that  Harrison was convicted in California 10 years ago for committing a lewd act on a child in Roseville, California. He served time in Soledad State Prison in Soledad, California, after his conviction in June 2009.

It is not particularly unusual for passengers and crew members working on cruise ships to be arrested with child pornography.

In 2012, a 47 year-old passenger was arrested in Port Canaveral with an extensive collection of child pornography after taking a cruise to the Bahamas aboard Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas.  A search of his laptop seized after the cruise revealed a total of 3,021 images and 2000 videos of child pornography. A search of the computers, discs, USB flash and digital hard drives at his home revealed a staggering amount of child pornography: 38,731 images and 680 videos.

We have written about the arrests of cruise passengers and crew members on child pornography charges:

These type of arrests should serve as a wake up to parents who take their children on cruises. Yes, there are sexual deviants and predators on cruise ships. A cruise ship presents the same dangers as your home town.

Our advice? Parents watch your kids. Yes, the U.S. federal agents and Canadian authorities will occasionally nab a child porno sicko with images on his iPhone or laptop but that’s probably a fraction of the child porn coming on and off cruise ships. With nearly 30,000,000 people sailing each year, and nearly a quarter of a million crew members employed on cruise ships, there are probably hundreds of perverts out there on the high seas.

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

Addendum: The question arises whether the cruise lines prohibit sexual offenders to cruise? Yes, some do, like Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Most don’t, like NCL.

Photo credit: Michael Harrison (6/20/2019) and (6/5/2018) – Nevada Sex Offenders; Norwegian Sun – Pjotr Mahhonin, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A 10-year-old boy from Singapore reportedly died after being found “unresponsive” in a cruise ship swimming pool yesterday according to several Asian newspapers.

Channel News Asia (CNA) reported that the child was sailing with his mother on the Genting Dream operated by Dream Cruises.

Bernama stated that a “pool attendant” failed to rescue the boy after he was found unresponsive in the ship’s pool.

Newsweek reported that the boy was taken off of the ship and sent to a hospital in Langkawi, Malaysia, where he died. The cruise ship was cruising from Singapore to Phuket, Thailand. According to Newsweek, the Genting Dream “boasts waterslides and swimming pools.” The cruise line employs “pool attendants” but no lifeguards on the ship. The cruise line states that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

There have been around a dozen cases of children drowning on cruise ships without life guards in the last several years. The Miami News Times covered this issue – Kids Drown in Cruise Ship Pools With No Lifeguards on Duty.

It takes a combination of attentive parents and well trained lifeguards to keep kids safe on a huge cruise ship with multiple pools and water parks.

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Photo credit: Top –  Sapphire Jasper – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – Travelling with Bruce.

A male passenger died after he fell four stories on a Carnival  cruise ship during a recent cruise, according to a news station in Fort Meyers, Florida.

The newspaper did not identify the Carnival cruise ship in its article which it published last night, although a video produced by WINK News showed footage taken of the Carnival Horizon.

The video was taken from a balcony on deck nine down to an exterior deck on level five.

The reporting is based on accounts from a vacationing family who was stayed in a cabin on the ninth floor where the passenger victim was on. A Carnival ship employee told the family that the passenger fell from the ninth floor to the fifth which reportedly was cordoned off after the fall.

The newspaper did not indicate when the incident occured, although yesterday morning the cruise ship docked in Miami, where the Miami Police Department reportedly began an investigation.

To our knowlegde, there have been no posting of the incident on social media to date.

The Carnival Horizon returned to Miami yesterday after a one week cruise to Jamaica, the Caymans and Mexico after leaving Miami on November 10, 2019.

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Photo credit: Top – Elliott Bryson III – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – WINK News, Fort Meyers.

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard from a Norwegian cruise ship this week as the ship was sailing to NCL’s “private island,” Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas, according to the popular Cruise Hive blog.

The blog states that a woman went overboard on November 12, 2019 as the NCL cruise ship Norwegian Sun was near Freeport, Bahamas (where the ship previously called).

A passenger who tweeted about the incident indicated that the ship quickly launched a rescue boat which located and returned the woman to the ship.

There are no “official” accounts indicating how or why the woman went overboard (but see the info from Dr. Klein’s CruiseJunkie below).

A passenger who contacted Dr. Klein’s CruiseJunkie website provided the following information:

“From a passenger:  On the ship and watched the rescue. Happened off the coast of Freeport in very calm waters with the ship going very slowly on its way to Great Stirrup Cay. Crew did great – from my balcony it appeared that the person climbed into the rescue boat on their own.  Very quick rescue.  LATER: So word in the ship is that it was a young woman. Jumped off her 9th floor balcony to go swimming. Survived relatively uninjured (a bit of a miracle). Rumor has it she’s in the brig. Cabin 9030 is cautioned taped off. Someone did get full video, so eventually that will be out there.”

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, there have been 357 overboards from cruise ship since 2000.

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Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line

A passenger attacked and severely injured his girlfriend ten days ago onboard the Norwegian Breakaway, according to court filings in a criminal case filed in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

An affidavit of an FBI agent who investigated the incident filed together with the criminal complaint* in the case of U.S. v. Smiley (case number 3:19-mj-02201-SCC) alleges that:

On November 4, 2019 at around 3:45 A.M., cruise passenger and Texas resident Jeff Smiley III was cruising aboard the NCL cruise ship with his girlfriend of seven months when they got into an argument over money. The argument turned into a confrontation in the casino. His girlfriend tried to remove herself from the argument and attempted to walk away. She called for security and continued to walk toward an elevator.

Surveillance video shows Smiley following the woman into the elevator. The argument continued and Smiley reportedly struck the woman in the face and knocked her glasses to the floor.

The woman attempted to get away from Smiley when the elevator doors opened. Smiley allegedly threw the woman to the floor and struck her with his elbow. She tried to flee again and Smiley tackled her down a flight of stairs and continued to beat her, causing serious injuries. A statement published by the FBI states that Smiley broke the woman’s jaw and arm.

The shipboard medical team reportedly treated the woman for the fractures as well as multiple abrasions and bruises.

At around 10:10 A.M., approximately seven hours later, Smiley underwent a breathalyzer test which reportedly showed a blood-alcohol level of .099.

FBI agents (of the Violent Crimes Squad) with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the cruise ship as it was approaching San Juan.

Smiley provided a statement to the FBI agents and reportedly confessed to the attack. The Department of Justice (DOJ) arrested him on charges of violating Title 18 United States Code, Section 113(7) (assaults within maritime and territorial jurisdiction; assault resulting in a substantial bodily injury to a spouse or intimate partner).

The federal court judge in San Juan denied Smiley bond and ordered that he remain detained until trial, finding that the U.S. government proved by clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions of release which will reasonably assure the safety of any other person or the public. The Court also found as other grounds for detention: the “strong” weight of evidence against Smiley,  his “prior criminal history,” and his “history of alcohol or substance abuse.”

NCL cruise ships have a reputation for having perhaps the most closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) on its cruise ships than any other fleet of ships. NCL has surveillance cameras in passenger hallways and elevators, unlike most cruise lines. NCL also has “surveillance operators” on its ships who are suppose to “conduct real time monitoring of Ship/passenger/crew Safety and Security,” among other job duties. The NCL surveillance operators are also required to “immediately report to the bridge any real time security and safety observations that may place the ship, passengers, or crew in jeopardy.”

It remains to be seen whether such an operator was monitoring the surveillance cameras at the time of the alleged crime and why ship security did not intervene into the confrontation before the woman was severely beaten.

Earlier this year (in April), the DOJ filed charges against another passenger caught on a surveillance camera video aboard a NCL cruise ship dragging a woman down the length of a passenger hallway and then beating her. According to Newsweek, the shipboard CCTV video shows the woman violently slap and repeatedly punch a woman on the Norwegian Gem, rendering her unconscious.

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Photo credit: Ad Meskens – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

*The FBI statement says: “The public is reminded a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The recent news of a crew member sexually assaulting a woman on an unidentified cruise ship sailing to St. Thomas reported by several newspapers in the U.S. Virgin Islands involved what the prosecutor is characterizing in court documents as a “brazen rape of his colleague.”

The criminal complaint, supporting affidavit of the investigating FBI agent, and the indictment and criminal information in the federal court file in St. Thomas reveal that the “aggravated sexual abuse by force” was allegedly committed by Celebrity crew member Louie Ison Mangampat aboard the Celebrity Equinoz as the cruise ship was sailing to St. Thomas on September 25, 2019.

The court documents reveal that on the night in question Mangampat and several other crew members gathered in a crew cabin when he “yanked” the female crew member “into the bathroom, where he locked her inside.” The FBI affidavit indicates that he then began “groping her against her active resistance.” Despite her attempts to block him from her body, Mangampat is alleged to have inserted one or more of his fingers into the crew member’s vagina. He is accused of performing oral sex on the woman and then “inserting his penis into her vagina.”

The woman reportedly broke away and got out of the bathroom and ran to her friend’s cabin where her friend called security and she was escorted to the ship infirmary. The ship doctor observed blood and internal physical injuries to the woman.

Mangampat admitted “having sex” with the crew member in written and video statements but claimed that it was consensual. He agreed to an interview with an FBI agent and denied having sexual intercourse and claimed that they only kissed.

In a motion for detention, the prosecutor characterized the assault as being of the “most serious – and disturbing – nature.” The government argued that the arrested crew member posed a danger to the community in light of his “brazen rape of his colleague.”

The original news article, like most such articles about the cruise industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands, did not contain any reference to the name of the cruise ship or cruise line and contained no information regarding what is alleged to have occured during the cruise to St. Thomas.

Mangampat’s Facebook page indicates that he was employed by Celebrity as a sushi cook.

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Photo credit: Brian Burnell via George Hutchinson CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.