A sixty-nine year old U.S. citizen, originally from California, was identified yesterday as the victim of an abduction and murder in Roatan, Honduras, according to a Honduran newspaper El Heraldo.

The newspaper reports that the body of Philip Foster Brown was found in a ravine near a road leading from West End to West Bay in Roatan on Tuesday.  Mr. Brown, who had lived on the island of Roatan in a community on West Bay for several years, disappeared from his home several days ago, leaving a large pool of blood on the porch of his house.  His corpse was found yesterday wearing only shorts with a bag over his head.

Mr. Bown was one of three “foreigners” (i.e., not Honduran) in Roatan who died under mysterious circumstances according to the Honduran press.

Roatan is a popular port which is heavily marketed as a paradise getaway by Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean.

We have written about cruise passengers and at least one crew member who have been victimized in violent armed robberies over the years in this idyllic yet dangerous destination, earning it a spot (#2) on my list of the ten most dangerous cruise port in the world several years ago.

As we wrote before, like many other Caribbean islands, the police in Roatan are either indifferent or corrupt. The legal system is somewhere between barbaric and non-existent.  Crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved or prosecuted.

Since 2010, Honduras has had one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, ranging between 59 and 86 per 100,000 according to the U.S. Department of State.  Honduras is far more deadly than even the most violent U.S. cities.  Chicago, for example, has a per capita murder rate of 24 per 100,000. (The per capita homicide rate in the U.S. is a little over 4 per 100,000).

The U.S. State Department states that: “Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from and experience lower crime rates than on the mainland and other Caribbean islands; however, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur.”

The State Department Crime and Safety Report also states that “Cruise ship passengers should take safety precautions, avoid unfamiliar areas, and book only with reputable tour companies during their stopover. Cruise lines and port agencies have approved tour companies offering packages. Port agencies have worked to improve taxi service to/from ports. The vast majority of cruise line passengers experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery (like this one) and carjacking have been reported.”

November 23, 2018 Update: A resident of Roatan who does not feel comfortable revealing her name left this comment: ” I live on Roatan. Over the last ten days there has been three kidnappings/abductions (including Phil Brown) resulting in probable homicides. There are 4 additional murders, 2 shootings in Los Fuertes and 2 stabbing deaths. That’s 7 total. Unreported, downplayed and hushed up.  No increase in police or military as has happened in past crime waves. No actions from local or national govt. There has been lots of armed robberies often with victims threatened with guns of knives to throats. Please help get the word out to cruisers. Big companies should stop coming here now.”

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Photo credit: El Heraldo.

According to ABC News in Australia, a cruise passenger was arrested after he tried to throw his partner overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.

According to the Mercury newspaper, witnesses heard screaming followed by an emergency alarm.

The Daily Mail identified the cruise passenger as David James Fysh.  According to the Epoch Times,  a fellow passenger commented on the Tasmania Police Facebook page that the woman was covered with bruises.

The incident, which the police in the next port of call in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia called a “family violence incident,” reportedly occurred last night around 3:30 a.m. The police boarded the cruise ship this morning in Hobart, arrested a 46 year-old man from Queensland and charged him with attempted murder.

The man appeared in the court in Hobart this afternoon and was remanded into police custody.

Domestic disturbances of this type occur more frequently than the cruise lines would like to admit.

Just last week, a cruise passenger assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas on an unidentified cruise ship. Two weeks ago, a woman slashed / stabbed her boyfriend with a steak knife aboard the Carnival Fantasy. Last month, another Carnival cruise passenger was indicted for throwing his girlfriend from the couple’s balcony on the 14th deck down down to the 11th deck on the Carnival Elation which sailed from Jacksonville to Freeport in the Bahamas.

The most recent publicized incident involved a husband who murdered his wife aboard the Emerald Princess during a cruise to Alaska last year.

We have written about cruise ship murders (typically of women) during cruises in the past.

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Photo credit: Bahnfrend – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York  alleged yesterday that a cruise passenger, identified in court papers as Carlos Batista Jr. of Elmhurst, New York, assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office published a copy of a grand jury indictment that the cruise passenger strangled and suffocated his girlfriend on September 8th on an unidentified cruise ship which sailed from New York early last month.

Mr. Batista reportedly “grabbed, dragged, pushed and pulled” his girlfriend through the hallway of the cruise ship after an argument.  Mr. Batista allegedly covered the mouth and restricted the breathing of his girlfriend until she lost consciousness. The court records identifies her only as “victim – 1.”

The U.S. government alleges that Mr. Batista dragged the woman into their  cabin and continued to choke her until others on the ship, responding to the woman’s screams, entered the cabin, according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

The crime is alleged to have occurred after Mr. Batista’s girlfriend told him that she wanted to end their relationship of a year, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

The FBI routinely does not mention the names of the cruise line or cruise ship where crimes occur, even though federal law requires cruise lines to disclose crimes such as assault and sexual assault via a portal maintained by the Department of Transportation. The DOJ identified the cruise ship only as “vessel – 1” in the complaint which it filed.

There have been a number of recent “domestic disturbances” during cruises in the last couple of months.  Earlier this month, a cruise passenger on the Carnival Fantasy was indicted earlier this month after she reportedly pulled a steak knife and cut her boyfriend during an altercation.  In August, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

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A United States District Court in Mobile, Alabama charged a Carnival cruise passenger with assault pursuant to a federal statute, 28 U.S.C. 113.

Jenetrice Williams of Birmingham, Alabama was taking a cruise on the Carnival Fantasy on August 19, 2018 when she allegedly “pulled a knife during an altercation with her boyfriend, Michael Carter.”

According to the probable cause affidavit, signed by an investigating police officer,  Ms. Williams “did produce a knife during an argument with her boyfriend. The defendant had a steak knife in her purse that she claims she brought from home and knowingly brought it on the cruise ship Carnival Fantasy.” She allegedly “purposely slashed / stabbed at the victim causing cuts to the victim’s left hand and right leg. The defendant was restrained by ship security.”

Comments posted on our Facebook page raised predictable questions:

  • How was it possible to sneak a knife past Carnival’s “highly trained security staff”?!?
  • And I can’t bring my water with me anymore, WTF?

Ms. William’s boyfriend left a comment on Facebook with a photo of him and his girlfriend only a few days before being knifed, stating “Coolin on the ship. No matter what enjoy life.”

Carnival Cruise Lines has experienced a number of deadly “domestic disturbances” in the past.  Last month, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

The federal court records indicate that Ms Williams has been ordered to appear at a hearing which is scheduled for  October 10, 2018.

Photo Credit: Violation notice and probable cause affidavit – U.S. District Court, Southern District Alabama, Mobile, Alabama.

A resident of New Jersey has been arrested and charged with taking an “upskirt” picture of a girl on a cruise ship.

The United States’s office recently released a press statement alleging that cruise passenger Jeffrey Goldstein violated a “voyeurism” statute, which prohibits the photographing of a person’s private area without consent when that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

According to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in New Jersey, the 31-year-old man went on a cruise ship from Bayonne, New Jersey to Bermuda  on July 8 when he approached a 13-year-old girl who was standing on the deck of the cruise ship, facing toward the water. He placed his iPhone under the child’s dress without her knowledge or permission and then walked away.

Another cruise passenger observed Goldstein taking the photograph and notified the cruise ship personnel who, in turn, reviewed surveillance video and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI later obtained a search warrant and downloaded the contents of Goldstein’s iPhone and found the photo of the girl, along with 42 other similar “up-skirt” images.

Goldstein faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He appeared on the voyeurism charge before a federal judge in Newark federal court on Wednesday and was was released on a $25,000 bond.

The press release from the U.S. attorney’s office did not reveal the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the crime took place. Taking secret “upskirt” photos and video voyeurism in public places obviously occurs everywhere and can and does occur on cruise ships as well.

Last year, a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy located a spy camera and transmitter in his family’s cabin.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) announced yesterday that a grand jury indicted a man  from Jacksonville, Florida for aggravated sexual abuse by force of a young woman on Carnival cruise ship. The FBI announced the news via a press release.

The indictment arises out of a incident which occurred on February 27, 2018 on the Carnival Elation when a 23 year old man  reportedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman with special needs during a cruise to the Bahamas. The incident occurred in a hot tub aboard the Carnival cruise ship.

According to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), cruise lines are required to report Carnival Elationcrimes to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Last year, 35 passengers and crew members reported being victims of sexual sexual attacks on Carnival Cruise Line ships, for an an average of three a month.

The FBI identified Brian Holland as the assailant.

The FBI earlier released a statement about the incident, saying: 

. . . agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were notified by the security department of the Carnival Cruise Line vessel Elation that a passenger onboard the ship had been involved in an incident of sexual abuse on February 27, 2018. The victim stated that she was in the Jacuzzi with Holland on the cruise ship when he kept attempting to put his arm around her and she attempted to move further away from him. Holland then tried to put his hand on her shoulder and pull her back toward him. The victim stated that Holland touched her on her genitals over her bathing suit and then under her bathing suit, digitally penetrating her by force. The victim left the Jacuzzi and immediately reported what happened to family, who then reported it to ship security. The victim was examined by medical personnel on the ship, who found abrasions on her genitals consisted with digital penetration by force.

The FBI states that Mr. Holland faces  a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a potential lifetime of supervision.

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Photo credit: WFTS ABC News

The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Mexico is situated on the Yucatán Peninsula of the country, west of Cuba. It consists of the resort city of Cancún on the Northeast of the Pennisula on the Caribbean coast, with Playa del Carmen and Tulum to its south which offer beautiful sandy beaches and seaside Mayan ruins, with the popular cruise destination of the island of Cozumel to the east of Palaya del Carmen.

Recently the U.S. State Department issued a warning to its federal employeees not to travel to Playa del Carmen following an explosion on a Mexican ferry which shuttled cruise passengers and other tourists between Palaya del Carmen and Cozumel. The U.S. Consular Office in Playa del Carmen was temporarily shut down due to crime threats unrelated to the threat against ferries operating Quintana Roo Mexico Cancun Cozumel Playa del Carmen between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.  U.S. government personnel are still prohibited from using the Mexican ferry services). Some cruise lines have cancelled all excursions using the ferry services, as we previously reported.

Although Cancun is known for its spectacular white sand beaches and turquoise waters, the tourist hotspot, many report, is “in the grips of a brutal and growing crime wave that threatens to leave it a ghost town.”  The same article writes:

“Amid a thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant and most of the murders go unsolved. Now, the situation is so dire that its multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under threat.”

British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy recently reported on the out-of-control violence in Mexico, fueled by drug cartels and extortion, in a special for SBS’s Dateline called Mexico Beach Wars. He reported that there were 169 killings in the first half of 2017, a per capita murder rate far, far higher than anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.

The fear is that the beaches in Quintana Roo will become like Acapulco, a once popular Mexican beach resort in Mexico frequented by movie stars in the 1950’s and 1960″s, which has long since been abandoned by the cruise industry due to violence.

The Mexico torurism officials, or course, are pushng back and claming that the region is safe for tourists to visit. Following the bombing of the ferry in Palaya del Carmen, the Ministry of Tourism for State of Quintana Roo in Mexico quickly issued press releases where it claims that there is “no risk” to tourists when visiting Cozumel. Meanwhile, the expanding cruise industry is still promoting Mexico as a regular attraction to its guests.

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

Interested in this issue? Please read:

Three Cruise Lines Plan to Return to Mazatlan: Will They Provide Bullet-Proof Jackets to Passengers?

Cruise Lines Return to Acapulco Amidst Violence.

Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?

Tainted Alcohol & Crime: Mexico Struggles With Image As Cruise Destination

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World 

See also: Washington Post – Acapulco is Now Mexico’s Murder Capital.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Rz6t2FEablA%3Frel%3D0

 

Carnival SpiritAn Australian cruise passenger, Mr. Sun, sued Carnival Australia after the cruise line falsely accused him of exposing himself to two young girls on the Carnival Spirit.

According to an Australian new station, the incident occurred during a cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia in December 2016.

Ship security personnel were notified that a man had "exposed and then touched himself" in front of young girls on the Carnival cruise ship. 

The security staff showed one of the girls, and the parents of the girl, photographs of Mr Sun. The girl apparently misidentified Mr. Sun as the culprit. The girl’s father then took matters into his own hands, accusing Mr. Sun of exposing himself to his daughter as he physically assaulted and battered Mr Sun in his own stateroom in front of Mr. Sun’s wife and child. 

The news report article states that when Mr. Sun called security for assistance, they instead escorted him to a room where they interrogated him for one-and-a-half hours and intimidated him from leaving.

The ship security finally showed Mr. Sun CCTV footage of the incident footage of the incident, which showed that the pedophile in the video was not heavily tattooed like him and exhibited other “obvious physical differences” from Mr. Sun.

Security eventually allowed Mr. Sun back to his room but denied him medical attention for the physical assault. 

Carnival was recently in the news following a series of brawls on its cruise ships leaving from Australian ports. Its security guards are shown in certain trending videos violently kicking passengers and trying to stop bystanders from videotaping the melees.  The lack of training and heavy handed tactics of the Carnival security are painfully obvious in the videos.

This latest fiasco seems again to be due to a lack of training by Carnival of its shipboard security personnel. 

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May 21, 2018 Update: Carnival offered the innocent guest a complimentary dinner with an apology for the disruption to his holiday. Carnival said we "are disappointed that the father of one of our guests decided to take matters into his own hands." According to Mr. Sun, "the security guy kept on saying it was because I was Asian and that the person who assaulted the girls was Asian, so it was an easy mistake . . . "   Mr. Sun was quoted as saying "you guys are incompetent, you guys are idiots."

Photo credit: Hpeterswald – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

The United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security issued another warning to U.S. tourists about the danger of sexual assault in Nassau , Bahamas yesterday.  The warning states:

Avoid Jet ski operators: Jet ski operators continue to commit sexual assaults and other crimes against tourists. U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed not to use jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands, including Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly recommend you also avoid patronizing jet ski rental operations.

The warning also advises tourists to drink responsibly due to the foreseeable risk of being drugged and Nassau Bahamas Crimethen sexually assaulted:

Stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when in clubs, bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night. Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been victims of sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. Watch your drink at all times. Intoxicated individuals may be targeted for drugging and sexual assault.

The warning is targeted to students traveling via cruise ship or air to the Bahamas for spring break to be on the alert for these dangers. 

We have reported many times on jet ski operators in the unregulated jet ski business in the Bahamas, who have raped tourists near Cable Beach or Paradise Island. Two years ago, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau states that jet ski operators sexually assaulted 5 tourists over the course of in 18 months.

We reported on four prior warnings about crime this year alone for Nassau, Bahamas by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau as well as by Canada.

In the past decade, there have been more crime warnings for Nassau, Bahamas than for all of the other Caribbean cruise ports combined. Nassau earned the title of the most dangerous cruise port in the world in 2014.

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Photo credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival Cruise Sexual AssaultYesterday, a male passenger aboard the Carnival Elation reportedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman with special needs during a cruise to the Bahamas. The incident occurred in a hot tub aboard the Carnival cruise ship.

A Jacksonville, Florida news station reported that that the mother of the victim said her “18-year-old daughter has the mental capacity of a young teen.” She believes the man “watched her then targeted her in the hot tub.”

CBS-47 Jacksonville reported that the young woman says her daughter left on a birthday cruise / girl’s trip with her grandmother. The woman, who has the mental capacity of a 13-year-old, was excited according to her mother – “This was really her first time experiencing a little freedom, you know?”

According to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), cruise lines are required to report crimes to the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year, 35 passengers and crew members reported being victims of sexual sexual attacks on Carnival Cruise Line ships, for an an average of three a month.

Carnival was last in the news regarding a series of brawls that took place on the Carnival Legend. The ship’s security guards, who added to the violence, were shown to be poorly trained.

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Video and photograph credit: CBS-47 Jacksonville