Drug busts on NCL cruise ships have been big news for the past month.

First there was the arrest of five galley workers on the Norwegian Sun who were apprehended in Tampa when they smuggled 7 kilos of cocaine from Roatan.

Two of the arrested NCL ship employees were from St. Lucia along with two crew members from Grenada and one employee from St. Vincent. Read article here

Then came the arrest last week of another NCL crew member, a Nicaraguan,  who worked in the galley of the Norwegian Dawn and tried to smuggle cocaine aboard when the cruise ship was docked in Roatan.

Since then, I heard that there were widespread arrests of NCL crew members on the Epic as well as some on the Sun. Several NCL crew members have told me that as many as 20 crew members from Nicaragua have been arrested with cocaine in the last several weeks.St. Lucia Cruise Ship

But there’s a downside to the arrests. Some crew members are innocent and yet they get fired by the cruise line and put on the do-not-enter-the-U.S. list of U.S. immigration. 

A reader of Cruise Law News sent this story about a crew member from St. Lucia who worked about the Norwegian Pearl. He was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs. But then he was released and another crew member was arrested instead.

NCL didn’t permit him to keep working. In fact, he was fingerprinted, his U.S. tourist and seaman’s visas were canceled, he was blacklisted from the U.S., and then was given a one-way flight back home.

We are often contacted in these type of cases. Unfortunately, maritime law is extremely unfavorable to crew members. Cruise lines can hire and fire crew members for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. The U.S. government can act even more arbitrarily and capriciously than the cruise lines. Low level customs agents yield incredible power to ruin the lives of hard working young men from the Caribbean. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo Credit: St. Lucia Times 

  • Jack

    Why don’t they just stop hiring people from the countries the smugglers are usually from? They’re usually from the same few countries. Same with the sex crimes employees; usually from the same few countries.

    Seems like there are never problems with employees from the Philippines. And they’re by far the most friendly and helpful on all the cruises I’ve been on. FYI, I’m not any percent Filipino.

  • tracey cox

    Jack , saying “stop hiring people from the countries the smugglers are usually from ” is ridiculous. It’s like saying all white people are racists which isn’t true. Every country has their good and bad people . It’s sad cause some of them are looking for an easy way to make money for their family which is wrong . Nothing done easily is worth it ,only hard work . Ps some of these criminals are my country men and I’m not happy nor proud of their acts . WE’RE NOT ALL THE SAME

  • Sheri

    First to Jack, the reason they don’t just hire form the Philippines is that it is not right to discriminate against people simply because others of their country of origin are bad. How would you feel if everyone in the world decided not to hire Americans because of the few arrogant, narcissistic individuals that travel abroad and give the rest of us bad names? Secondly, I think the state department US Customs and Border Protection, needs to put some sort of protection in place for these individuals that are wrongly convicted and fine the companies if they have to. ( I know will never happen). Some of these people are hard working individuals just trying to support their families and give them a better life and the Cruise Line is destroying that with no consequences. Getting fired is one thing, but then put on a permanent DO NOT ENTER list, is unacceptable.

  • utility galley worker

    Jack ur an arse cus i work on the cruise ship and by far fililinos are the most racist when it comes to people from the caribbean,and we the black caribbean men are the hardest set of working people on the ship,im proud to say im from st lucia.so when u say ur crap know wat words cum from ur mouth.thank you

  • cami

    Please note that its only one of the guys from NCL Sun is from Grenada. The other in from Guyana. I have my facts. I know them alll

  • Nat

    Unfortunately a few people who do wrong cab seriously jeopardize others at a cruise line. I can bet now that these nationalities will be called out by cbp to be inspected or worse, they’ll all be detained in U.S. Ports. Also ships visitors Roatan now will have a harder time coming back into the U.S. These few individuals have no idea how they are compromising the entire industry.

  • lyneth roberts

    First of to President Barack Obama, the CBP officers are acting ignorant or illiterate! Therefore, things need to be put in place to train them properly. And a thorough investigation is needed to be carried out on the CBP officers that sent home these crew members innocently. To NCL these young men working hard and diligently for the company and NCL did nothing on there behalf. So are our children security not safe on these ships? Terrorist can disguised as these officers and kidnap our children since the ship authority is ‘SLACK’. I have past family members that work on previous ships nothing of that sort had never occurred in history. Why the innocent have to pay for crime they did not commit, Hats off to you my brother my son is rocking in the same boat. Hope you all get justice.

  • cp

    All I have to say for this is let justice be served fairly. I know the young man who was wrongfully accused very well and is a hard worker helping his family. Never know him to meddle with drugs far less the wrong set of people. I think it was unfair what happened to him and all the other people who are involved and are truly innocent.Why didn’t they look for solid evidence before they make that decision and ruin people lives.

  • larry

    Why doesn’t the US change these antiquated laws to better protect workers and passengers? This is the transportation industry and yet we seem to have less rights because of some devotion to outdated traditions.

  • MC

    Everyone is doing the “Monday quarter back” analogy for this young man. Do we know how many crewmembers are on that ship and how many crew CBP Officers sent home that day, where there any drugs found? Is he related to any of the many cases of drug smuggling on the NCL ships? These are some of the questions that need to be asked. Whether the writing on the visa is sloppy or not, there are questions. Why don’t the owner of this website contact CBP or NCL and get more information before making allegations of abuse of power?
    Just Saying

  • “MC”

    NCL and other cruise lines refuse to discuss the firing of their crew. The CBP or other federal agencies also refuse to answer questions.

  • EC

    As a crewmember onboard the NCL Pearl, I can tell you that I heard a Customs Officer tell the security about finding 10 pounds of cocain on the ship. They took a lot of people off the last day in Miami.

  • Justice

    being racist is not the issue here,why don’t we summarize the reason why these people doing illegal acts…is because the money they earn is not enough for their hardwork. First,NCL charges the guests for the automatic Gratuity everyday per guests. And some guests thought the sum of that gratuity are ALL divided to all the crews. Which i can asure that never happens,EVER!
    The largest amount of an individual crew can have is about .50c per day from a guest. All the rest of the gratuity charged from guests goes to NCL. Believe it or not. This is really happening.
    Second thing,crew working hard far away from their family and loved ones even on holidays. And some guests are neglecting to appreciate their hard work. I’m talking about giving tips!
    To all cruisers,if you think the crew who served you. Did a good job. He deserves to have extra. “Thank you” is good. But those crew needs cash.
    And lastly,I think NCL should increase the salary of their crew. So they will stop and think twice before they commit an illegal act! period!

  • Byron Huart

    This is a very disturbing story, there are good people getting framed and the real criminals getting busted but why should an innocent man pay for a dirt bag’s stupidity. There has to be all types of levels of security for these ships, drugs are dangerous to the society and these people should not have to utilize company vessels to hurt people.

    However I feel certain men who are under suspicion should be given a fair say and only fired if there’s substantial evidence against them. I believe the cruise lines need to stop looking at the race card and start looking at personality and character to judge someone, anyone can be a drug smuggler. I say declare war on anyone who sells drugs to our communities, god forbid it fell into the hands of children and young men and women. We must stop this at all costs but with vigilance and determination.

  • MS


    You are so arrogant to make comments like this. I am a Canadian crew member married to a Saint Lucia and am incredibly offended by your lack of knowledge. I can tell you the Americans also get busted for things just as stupid but unfortunately it isn’t as newsworthy. Get your facts straight and get out of your little bubble. You should spend more time travelling and less time reading blogs about travelling.

  • Peter paul

    Hey “Jack” you forgot to tell everyone your surname …..”Ass”.

  • Skip


    Nobody makes you, or any other crew member, work for the cruise lines. They know what to expect going in. If it isn’t to their liking, don’t sign on. If the money isn’t enough or the working conditions are not as expected, then quit and do something more to your liking that pays you what you think you deserve- there are thousands willing to take your place

  • Jack

    Get mad and call me names; I couldn’t care less. But facts are facts. Some crew member nationalities are rarely if ever involved in crimes aboard cruise ships, at least going by what’s reported.

  • jonny

    I still can’t believe this happened to him cause we worked together
    And I can safely say he is not that kind of a person.no matter how much u beef up security some people will still find loop holes.What if that had happened to me what would be the outcome. After we work like slaves and to be treated like this is absolute ludicrous. My bro just rise over the outcome and you will be richly reward. Pisss bro….

  • Bob

    I have witnessed this first hand.

    A crew member had been accused of rape by another crew member, the girl who made the accusation then admited that the clams were false.

    She let her job and the accused was fired.

    Might be worth pointing out that the guy was not even allowed out of his cabin for a week while the case was going on and was denied any type of contact with anyone.

    This happens on RCCL.
    Guilty until proven innocent…

  • Utility galley

    A lot of you people don’t know anything what’s going on the way they treat us they treat us like shit is not right they say Caro tolerance of discremination and racism especially if you are black and look it’s happening on every ships if you are from my country I promote you if you are not to hell with you if I like you I promote you is not right that’s why most of us are not Happy too much unfair things are going on and no justice we work hard very hard and no one sees that and another to what that comment says about Filipinos are the most nicest person you are wrong they are the most two faces person I ever met most of my people got fired because of them no offence but if am poor looking for something just as anybody I would be humble and I will never make bad for anybody cause as we know karma is a….guys ship life for us crew members it’s hard people that come to cruise don’t know they think oh they are Happy they are winning big money if they should just know thank you.