Busting U.S. cruise passengers for small amounts of pot is big business for the customs officers in Bermuda. It’s a topic we have written about often.

The cases all seem the same. When the cruise guests go ashore, the customs officers board the ship with their sniffer dogs and conduct warrant-less searches without probable cause. They even request the ship security personnel to open up the safes in the cabins.  A gram or two brings a $500 or so fine which the passengers pay with a credit card to avoid the threatened three month jail sentence. 

This week, a newspaper in Bermuda reports that a U.S. passenger, age 25, "Chelsea," arrived in NCL Norwegian BreakawayBermuda on NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway. The customs officers found 2 grams of marijuana in her cabin’s safe. A man who shared her cabin (apparently her boyfriend) said the pot was his, but that didn’t stop the police from handcuffing Chelsea and hauling her off to jail.

Chelsea claims that she was suffering from pain due to the cuffs and asked for relief several times from one of the officers. The newspaper says that after the arresting officer "repeatedly ignored her cries of pain," intimating that the officer intentionally tried to hurt her by twisting the middle part of the handcuffs, Chelsea cursed the officer saying:.

“You f***ing stupid b***h. You’re hurting me, you b***h.” 

This outburst led to the prosecutors charging her with "violently resisting arrest."

The presiding judge, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, scoffed at the charges pointing out that the woman did not become violent and cursed only after she was ignored when she complained of pain.

The prosecutors introduced no evidence on the resisting arrest charge.

Magistrate Warner then fined Chelsea $500 for the pot. You can read about Magistrate Warner in these articles: 

Bermuda’s Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined?

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas, an issue the cruise line security should deal with. But rapes or violent shipboard crimes? Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.

Compare Bermuda’s madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships. For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crew members and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers. All of them served jail time. A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you’ll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by police or customs officers or sentenced by Magistrate Warner. There’s no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

Photo Credit: Bermuda Sun


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  • tinikini

    “Warrant-less searches without probable cause” and “the opening of safes” really gets to me. Forget about the pot, this is just plain wrong. This is blatant disrespect for the tourist who travel to their island. What if you had a little group of thugs going through your room….you wouldn’t like that so why anyone else. Things could be taken by the so called honest crew and cops. But it is certainly okay to drink till you puke, and fight and cause problems, or fall overboard, or have someone push you overboard on the ship. It is also probably perfectly okay to party, drink yourself stupid and spend lots of money on the island while your there. But it is not okay to leave your room with a couple of joints in it. While you probably should not travel with or buy pot out of the country…you should not be searched or your room be rummaged through without probable cause and without you present during the search, if you are not any danger to anyone or yourself. Wonder how many searches have been conducted and no one even knows they have been searched or know that anyone other than the cabin attendant has been in their room. Creepy!!

  • Jeff Sams

    I don’t believe this!! Bermuda government has one of the worst reputations for the treatment of vacationers. The people here are very friendly and helpful to the guest that visit here, but come on! I went on line before I came to work here and saw this stuff and I thought to my self this doesn’t really happen. Bermuda, is this the message you want people to take back home with them? I heard you are going to build a big new resort in St. George. People do research where they go for vacations this is what they find. It’s not the fact they busted some girl for 2 grams of weed but they come on board and take the dogs room to room and make them open their safes. The weed was on the ship, locked in her safe! Read the hole article it will blow your mind. This Post for my US friends. Bermuda you have known about this for a long time now.

  • Indy

    As a bermudian it’s nasty of the police and government …but look at the American government and there no better …use common sense …leave the weed home ..I bet you wouldn’t take two grams to Singapore …must people on the island don’t agree with the law but you don’t go to someone’s house and just go in there fridge do you ? And u.s. Laws are not bermudian laws …don’t be scared to come to Bermuda …it’s safe clean , and most people are friendly ….leave the drugs at home ….simple little rule ..

  • eddie dollar

    Rules re rules and just because they are not to your liking it doesn’t mean you don’t abide by them. respect the laws of the country. Mr walker have you ever worked on a ship to know what its really like and what some of these passengers do? They are not always the victims as you want everyone to believe.

  • 32n65w

    If you don’t like our rules don’t come here. I abide by the rules in any country I visit.
    Stay at home if you don’t like it. Cruise ship passengers are not real tourists. They hardly affect any jobs in. Bermuda. Two guys tie the ship up and they all get off and go in mobs to the beach. They are frequently rude and think they have paid for everything on the ship.
    Cruise ships have ruined the tourist industry in Bermuda and throughout the Caribbean. They go in shops and want to haggle. Where the hell do they think they are? This is not the third world. It is the highest or second highest standard of living in the world. Tourism is probably less than 5% of the economy, the rest is international business. I for one would be quite happy if they took their ships elsewhere.

  • Lisa Neasham

    So the story I got on this was that these two had been a nuisance the whole cruise down to Bermuda and after complaints from other passengers on board, the Cruise Ship requested the police/customs to come. After “Chelsea” repeatedly shouted and swore and flopped herself around on the ground and acted like a complete idiot, she was placed in cuffs and arrested. I am NOT in aggreemnet with cruise ship passengers rooms being searched at all, I think it is WRONG but when you act the way she did and disturbed other passengers onboard with her/their behavior on the cruise down in my opinion she got exactly what she deserved!!!

  • Claire

    Agree with Eddie and Indy. James Walker, if this was Thailand or Singapore the consequence would be much worse. There you are accused of drug trafficking and sentenced to death. You should abide by the laws and regulations of whatever country you visit. Just leave it at home and if you want to smoke it that bad go to Amsterdam or Colorado.

  • tinikini

    Yep, come on over to Colorado!!!! We love to take your money to build new schools and better our schools and have no more tax increases on the public to do it!!!!! Millions of dollars in taxes collected already in Colorado from pot sales. Maybe these islands should legalize the pot so they have money to fight the more serious crime.

  • Samantha Alves

    This is SO embarrassing for a Bermudian to read! Bermuda has definitely got its priorities wrong when it comes to prosecuting people (ESPECIALLY tourists) for pot, when they neglect to prosecute people harder for worse crimes. It’s ridiculous and I hope that incidents like these being made public 1. change the way things operate here and 2. don’t scare tourists away!! We need our tourists, so are the cops and courts treating them like this??

  • Andrew Woodworth

    No warrant or probable cause is needed to search the ships. American laws don’t apply here. You know what else is unlike America? Bermuda has almost no gun crime, very little violent crime, and very little problem with drugs. You know why? No warrants or probable cause required.

    I get it that you might feel violated when a drug dog sniffs your stuff and you get caught with a little weed, but the reason gun crime is low and drug problems are low is because the controls against importation are largely effective. The cruise ships have been used in the past to import drugs into Bermuda and without this inconvenience they would be used again.