Bermuda Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner was again busy fining cruise tourists last week.
According to the Bermuda Sun, Magistrate Warner fined a Norwegian Star passenger on his honeymoon $800 after the local police used a sniffer canine to locate a few marijuana cigarettes (6 grams) in the passenger’s cabin while he and his newlywed bride were enjoying the sites ashore.
I have written a dozen articles (here’s one and here’s another) about the good Judge Warner fining U.S. passengers big bucks for small amounts of pot. It seems like these fines are a major source of revenue for Bermuda. The fact that the pot is found only after police take dogs on the cruise ships to conduct searches of private cabins with no warrant or probable cause doesn’t seem to mind the prosecution or the judiciary in Bermuda.
American passengers who are already kicked off the cruise ship and facing jail time are always quick to pay $500 to $3,000 to avoid a few months in the slammer on the rocky island. What a racket. The newspapers in Bermuda love covering these type of cases and are sure to plaster a photo of the busted pothead in their newspapers.
And speaking of rackets, Magistrate Warner also fined a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger $4,000 after he was caught stealing stuff on the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship. According to Bernews, the Royal Caribbean security caught a passenger from New Jersey "using (a) stolen credit card in three transactions to dishonestly acquire goods and services (from the ship spa) including two bottles of men’s cologne."
Now I don’t like crooks and I’m glad that the bad guy with the cologne got caught. But I wonder how on earth a judge in Bermuda could assert jurisdiction over a theft committed by a U.S. citizen on a foreign flagged cruise ship in international waters?
According to Bernews, Magistrate Warner was also wondering why he was presiding over such a case. The newspaper states: "After questioning and then confirming that the ship was a "Bermuda Registered ship" and Bermuda authorities were lawfully able to take action, Senior Magistrate Archie Warner allowed the case to proceed."
The problem is that the Explorer of the Seas is not a vessel registered in Bermuda. Everyone knows that. No Royal Caribbean cruise ships are registered in Bermuda. The Explorer of the Seas is registered in and flies the flag of the Bahamas. (Next time the magistrate should send someone to the dock and take a photo of the cruise ship’s stern. You will see: Explorer of the Seas – Nassau.)
Bermuda, the Bahamas, whatever. Both start with a "B," close enough for Magistrate Warner. The short hearing netted Bermuda $4,000 – quick money for a case that it has no jurisdiction over.
This would be amusing, I suppose, except for the fact that Bermuda demonstrates no interest in prosecuting serious cruise ship crimes. Bermuda looks the other way when faced with rapes, abandonment of mariners at sea, or mysterious disappearances of crew members that occur on cruise ships which are, in fact, flying the maritime flag of Bermuda.
Photo Credit: Explorer of the Seas – travel.com