Yesterday there were multiple news accounts of the sentencing of Carnival cruise passenger, Robert McGill, to life in jail for the brutal murder of his wife aboard the Elation cruise ship.
The crime occurred after McGill reportedly drank a half bottle of Mezcal and seven or eight beers while ashore in Cabo San Lucas. The Southwest Riverside News reports today that McGill was "so inebriated he could not negotiate the ship’s gangplank without assistance upon returning from a shore visit."
After he killed his wife in an intoxicated rage, he cleaned himself up, placed a "do not disturb" sign on the cabin door, and proceeded to the top deck where he drank beers from a bucket as the cruise ship sailed back to San Diego.
It is disturbing to me that the shipboard security would permit a passenger who is so-drunk-that-he-can’t walk-straight onto the ship without escorting him to the ship doctor or placing him in the brig until he sobers up. Certainly the security guards manning the gangway entrances are going to notice someone reeking of booze and stumbling through the metal detector like this.
What are Carnival’s procedures when security observes passengers in such a high state of intoxication? I’m not sure. I know that many cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, consider such intoxication to be a violation of the passenger’s code of conduct, which permits the cruise line to intervene and place the passengers in the brig for their own safety and that of other passengers.
But in reality does any cruise line actually enforce this policy? Did anyone on the Carnival Elation care when McGill stumbled aboard with a gut full of Mezcal and 90 ounces of cervezas consumed ashore in Cabo?
If Carnival had acted responsibly, McGill would have spent the evening and night in the brig to sober up and no one would be reporting on such a violent crime. But it didn’t. Not only did Carnival let such a drunken passenger onto its ship, but it served McGill a bucket of beer after he killed his wife. So much for not serving drunks.
I know, many people reading this will say its not Carnival’s fault, its a matter of personal responsibility. Yes, personal responsibility plays a big part in life. McGill should have acted responsibly and not drank to excess, assuming that alcohol played a part in the murder. But Carnival has a legal obligation of exercising its corporate responsibility to protect its guests as well. There is a correlation between drunken passengers on cruise ships and violence, just like a connection between drunken bar patrons and bar fights.
Two years ago, I blogged about the danger of violence and drunk Carnival passengers – Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships.
You can watch video of drunken passenger fighting in this article from last year – More Cruise Ship Violence – A Drunken Brawl On Carnival’s Dream.
In this case, Carnival looked the other way when McGill staggered aboard. Carnival profited by selling McGill beer later. Buckets of bud lite beer on Carnival ships go for $25 for five beers, which would cost less than $5 a six pack ashore.
The LA Times has an interesting photo of Mr. McGill being escorted off the crew gangway by a FBI agent, as passengers are seen boarding the passenger gangway above to begin their cruise on schedule.
It seems that Carnival’s motto is load em’ off, load em’ in. Let the drinking begin . . .