Following Mr. Smith’s disappearance, the Master of the Brilliance of the Seas quickly concluded that his disappearance was simply an “accident.”
Royal Caribbean never told the families that there was blood on the awning below the cabin (which the cruise line quickly cleaned off with high pressure hoses) or that four men had entered Mr. Smith’s cabin shortly before he went overboard, or that passengers in the cabins on both sides of the Smith’s cabin had heard strange noises on the night of his death.
George Smith was not the first passenger to “disappear” under suspicious circumstances on a cruise ship.
Canadian cruise expert professor Ross Klein has tracked overboards and disappearances at sea for the past decade. As of today, there are 164 cases of crewmembers and passengers going overboard in the past 15 years. In my experience, most people are never found. Criminal prosecutions are rare and convictions are virtually nil. Most cases receive little if any press coverage.
George Smith’s cases was different.
When photographs of the blood covered awning taken by passengers began appearing on the cable news shows, the U.S. public began doubting what the cruise line was saying.
Soon, the story of George Smith became a topic on every cable news show, every night.
Joe Scarborough was the first to begin covering the story. He invited me onto his program in early July 2005. Then the Rita Cosby show covered the story, followed by Court TV with Catherine Crier, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, FOX News’s Hannity and Colmes, CNN’s Larry King, Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace.
Joe Scarborough began interviewing passengers on either side of the Smith’s cabin who had never been interviewed by either the cruise line or the FBI. On one side was police officer Clete Hyman who described an argument between in the Smith’s cabin followed, eventually, by what he described as a “horrific thud.” On the other side were other passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer, who described what sounded like a brawl, with furniture being moved and things slamming into the wall, leading them to complain to cruise line security personnel that they had "better get in there," because the cabin was probably "trashed."
All of these witnesses were coming forth, for the first time, on TV. Few of them had ever been contacted by either the investigating authorities in Turkey (no surprise) or by the FBI.
From July through December 2005, the story of the “missing honeymooner” was a nightly event, covered by CNN, MSNBC and FOX news non-stop. The coverage forever changed the public’s perception of the cruise industry and raised the issue of just how safe, or dangerous, cruising really was.
What happened in the Smith’s cabin?
Was the cruise line covering up a crime?
This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV – Six Years Later.
Do you have information which may solve this case? Please let us hear from you.