Yesterday, Senator Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) introduced legislation to amend the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”) to provide a basis for compensation for the pain, suffering and other emotional losses suffered by the surviving family members of loved ones killed at sea.

“Hammer’s Law” is a bill named for Larry and Christy Hammer of Omaha, Nebraska who tragically lost their lives in a fire in their cabin onboard a Peruvian river cruise on April 10, 2016.  As matters now stand, when an adult child loses a parent on the high seas (defined as outside of U.S. state territorial waters, including the rivers and waters of foreign countries), the law permits, at best, the recovery of only “pecuniary” (financial) losses, such as lost wages (assuming the person is employed). If the person is a retiree, or a child, the only damages permitted are the expenses of burying their loved one. Emotional damages such as grief, bereavement, pain, mental anguish, sadness and suffering are prohibited.

This means that currently when a cruise line’s negligence kills a retired passenger or a child, the cruise line can evade financial accountability without addressing the underlying safety issues.  Cruise lines have lobbied heavily over the years to keep the ancient maritime law, passed in 1920, on the books. DOSHA punishes families when they lose a parent, or child, on the high seas, notwithstanding the negligence of a cruise line.

Today, is the three year anniversary of the Hammer’s deaths, which were caused by gross negligence during a cruise sold by Alabama-based International Expeditions. Peruvian authorities found that the fire which killed the Hammers while they slept in their cabin on La Estrella Amazonica, a river cruise boat on the Peruvian Amazon. The fire was reportedly caused by a defective power cord provided by the ship, the absence of working fire alarms and the poor training of the crew who failed to respond for other 20 minutes to the fire. It’s a sad story, involving entirely preventable deaths, which we wrote about earlier – Deadly Amazon River Fire Update: International Expeditions’ La Estrella Amazonica (photos and video).

Senator Fischer said upon introduction of the propose legislation:

“The tragic passing of Larry and Christy Hammer is something no family should have to endure. My office has been working with their daughters, Jill and Kelly, coordinating with the State Department to get answers from the Peruvian government and hold culpable parties responsible. Hammers’ Law would change existing law to help ensure cruise lines are held accountable after such a devastating loss.” 

You can read Senator Fischer’s press release here.

The cruise industry, which has lobbied heavily against efforts to reform the antiquated maritime statute over the years, is expected to resist the proposed legislation.

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

Photo credit: Larry and Christy Hammer – Jill & Kelly Hammer via Remember the Hammers

Interested in this issue? Consider reading:

Cruise Operators Continue to Hide Behind the Death on the High Seas Act.

The Death on the High Seas Act – Screwing American Passengers for 89 Years.

Deadly Amazon River Fire Update: International Expeditions’ La Estrella Amazonica.

Death On The High Seas Act Protects BP and Cruise Lines at the Grieving Family’s Expense.



Today, the Miami News Times published an article titled: Sexual Assault Is the Most Publicly Reported Crime on Cruises, but Companies Say It’s Rare.

Written by Meg O’Connor, the article begins by reporting on a sexual assault committed against a nineteen-year-old passenger by a fitness instructor on the Celebrity Summit while docked in Bermuda. The crew member was employed by a Celebrity Cruises concessionaire, Canyon Ranch. The instructor was identified in the lawsuit papers as Carlos Roberto Castro Tadeo.

Approximately nine months earlier, the same instructor, working for Carnival at the time, sexually assaulted a 16-year-old passenger on the Carnival Breeze. He sexually assaulted the girl “under the pretense of taking her measurements for a complimentary consultation/fitness analysis.” A civil lawsuit was filed (Smith v. Carnival Corp., et al. Case No. 17-CV-23630-CMA, S.D. 2017) after the FBI/DOJ declined to prosecute. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount in a confidential settlement. The incident was featured in a special report titled Sex Assault Victims on Cruise Ships Are Often Under 18 by NBC News.

Carnival fired the crew member, but a year later, the fitness center operated by a company called Canyon Ranch (a/k/a Canyon Ranch At Sea) hired him. (Several years ago, Celebrity Cruises and Canyon Ranch announced their partnership in a comprehensive SpaClub at Sea offering, including beauty salons and fitness areas on Celebrity ships). Canyon Ranch assigned the fitness instructor to work aboard the Celebrity Summit where he assaulted the nineteen-year-old cruise guest, after “calling himself a masseuse and spa director and under the pretense of providing  . . .  a complimentary massage.” After he molested the young woman on the Celebrity Summit, Bermuda declined to prosecute.

Carnival spokesperson Vance Gulliksen said, when asked by the Miami New Times about the fitness instructor, “he was terminated following an investigation with the FBI and was repatriated to his native country of Mexico.”

Asked how the Canyon Ranch fitness instructor was employed aboard the Celebrity Summit after being fired by Carnival, a Canyon Ranch representative said that the company “does not comment on matters in litigation.”

And a spokesperson for Celebrity also declined to comment to the New Times on the lawsuit but added “Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our guests and crew, and we believe that even one accusation of sexual assault onboard our ships is one too many.”

The case demonstrates a fundamental danger to cruise passengers caused by weak cruise line employment screening practices, including refusing to share information when one of their employees sexually assaults a guest (which is the most common criminal offense on a cruise) or commits some other crime during a cruise.

Cruise lines do, in fact, share information when a passenger commits a crime during a cruise. For example, if a guest on a Royal Caribbean ship commits credit card fraud, or cheats the ship’s casino, or violates the cruise line’s guest conduct policy, Royal Caribbean will tell its competitors (like Carnival and NCL).  The cruise lines also share information regarding which guests have filed a claim against a cruise company.

It seems that cruise lines are quick to share information in order to protect their money and legal interests from their customers, particularly litigious ones, but they never share information if they have hired a sexual predator who has preyed on their customers.

Our firm has handled several cases where a crew member accused of assaulting a passenger was fired from one cruise line only to end up working on another line. One case involved a bartender, who Royal Caribbean fired after he sexually assaulted a guest, who subsequently ended up working on a Princess cruise ship sailing out of Miami. He was later fired from Princess only after I informed Princess’ in-house counsel of his history.

Another problem is that many cruise lines do not conduct their own pre-employment vetting, but rely on their hiring agents to perform the background checks. The problem is particularly acute when the hiring agency is an unsophisticated high volume labor supplier which routinely staff cruise ships with cabin attendants, bartenders and waiters.  Some hiring agents are eager to place applicants on ships and require only a certificate from a local constable that the local police station has no information that the prospective hire has been arrested. There is no semblance of a national, computerized criminal database in countries like India, Mexico or the Caribbean. That’s why a sexual predator with a proclivity for girls / young women found his way onto Carnival and Celebrity cruise ships.

Carnival and Celebrity routinely state that “the safety and security of our guests is our highest priority.” But if that were true, then a do-not-hire warning to cross-town rival lines would be a natural part of the screening  process.

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

Photo credit: Celebrity Summit – Yankeesman312 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons/ wikimedia.

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit cruise ship recently failed a sanitation inspection by United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors, in February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published its official report for the inspection.

On February 15, 2019, USPH sanitation inspectors conducted an inspection of the the Silver Spirit cruise ship and gave the cruise ship, operated by Silversea Cruises, a failing score of 81.

You can locate the report here.

You can locate the corrected actions report of the cruise line here.

In the lengthy report, inspectors found numerous sanitation violations, including: potable water bunkering and calibration problems; inaccurate pipe disinfection logs; soiled backflow prevention devices, dishwasher nozzles, rinsing arms and manifolds and drain lines which were blocked with food debris; numerous fish products which were improperly stored with fruits, salami and cheese; improper time control plans in the officer/staff mess and passenger buffets; improper hand-washing temperatures/procedures/facilities (absence of soap); a small, broken and heavily soiled refrigerator was located in the engine room office area with a rotten apple and spoiled milk inside; and failure to follow protocols regarding acute gastrointestinal (AGE) involving a crew member who reported late to the crew medical facility, amongst other violations .

This is not the first time that a Silversea Cruises ship failed a USPH inspection.

In March of last year, the USPH inspected the Silver Wind and found numerous unsanitary violations. Repeated problems were noted in the ship’s potable water treatment. Inspectors located over two dozen flies in the galley, food preparation and dish washing areas. Inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit. The USPH issues a score of only 79. You can read the USPH report here.

Six years ago, in 2013, Silversea Cruises was caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. CNN aired a special program about the “hide and seek” games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by USPH sanitation inspectors.

Our blog was the first to cover the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors.

Silversea engaged in an intentional, calculated scheme to hide food and galley equipment in the crew cabins. Crew members on the cruise ship alerted our firm that they (galley workers) were being ordered by their supervisors to take trolleys of perishable foods (eggs, fish & cheese) to the crew quarters and hide the food from inspectors during bi-annual CDC inspections. We advised the “whistle-blower” crew members to notify the CDC. As a result of a surprise inspection, the CDC discovered that the cruise line hid “over 15 full trolleys” of food and food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils in “over 10 individual cabins” in order to avoid scrutiny of vessel sanitation inspectors. It flunked the Silversea ship with a score of 82.

You can see photos of the cruise line’s practices on our Facebook page here.

You can watch the CNN video here.

But Silversea didn’t learn its lesson.  In 2015, two years after the disastrous Silver Shadow inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82.

Regarding the Silver Spirit, the last sanitation scores were 98 in 2018 and 99 in 2017. It earned perfect scores of 100 on three occasions, in 2013, 2012, and 2011.

The purpose of the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to assist the cruise ship industry to “prevent and control the introduction, transmission, and spread of gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses on cruise ships.” The VSP operates under the authority of the U.S. Public Health Service Act, and applies only to cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. Few countries outside of the U.S. inspect cruise ships for sanitation problems.

USPH sanitation inspectors conduct inspections twice a year on cruise ships, when they are in a U.S. port. The inspections are supposedly a surprise, although many crew members have stated that federal inspectors sometimes give advance notice of the inspections to the cruise ships. A score of 85 or below constitutes a failed sanitation score, and often leads to the firing of the shipboard Food & Beverage department heads and/or managers and always result in increased work for the shipboard employees.

It should be embarrassing for a high-brow Silversea cruise ship like the Silver Wind to miserably fail an USPH inspection like this.

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

Update: We were contacted by a Silversea crew member who wishes to remain anonymous who stated that the Silver Spirit was re-inspected last April 2 in Fort Lauderdale and scored a 92.

Photo credit: Silver Spirit – Brian Burnell / George Hutchinson CC BY-SA 3.0,


It seems that after an elevator malfunctioned on the Carnival Inspiration last weekend, with five guests inside, Carnival handled the situation poorly according to the comments posted on Facebook online.  A reader of Cruise Law News sent this link to me today:

Carnival Cruise Elevator Line snaps while crew members mock passengers and take video, meanwhile passenger faints…

Posted by Jacob Burrola on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Carnival officers who eventually responded appeared to be disinterested in the situation and allegedly either blamed the young men and/or told them “not to touch anything”. . .

One of the guests caught in the broken elevator posted on Facebook: that when officers finally appeared “. . . they didn’t ask us what happened and they just started trying to pry the doors open with a “box wrench” which caused it to slip anymore…”

One of the passengers appeared to pass out before he was freed from the elevator, according to the comments.

Carnival eventually responded to the situation, according to the men, by banning them from future cruises with Carnival. Carnival delivered a letter from the master of the Inspiration, Crescenzo Palomba, to each of the men before they disembarked from the ship. It stated:

“This letter will confirm your discussion with Carnival Cruise Line (“Carnival Inspiration”) personnel where you were informed that you will be disembarked from the vessel and not permitted to sail onboard any Carnival Cruise Line vessel in the future.  This decision was based on your actions on the current cruise, which were a violation of the ship rules.  Interfered with the safety and/or enjoyment of other guests on the ship of caused harm to Carnival.  Your attempt to book a future cruise will result in cancellation and a possible loss of deposit monies.   You will be responsible for all travel expenses incurred and an invoice will be sent to your home address for payment.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”

You can watch the videos taken by the Guests here.

Three years ago, an electrician employed by Carnival died after being crushed in an elevator shaft aboard the Carnival Ecstasy.

April 5, 2019 Update:  Newsweek covered this story this morning.

One of the guests Eric JT Kim who was trapped in the broken elevator denied any misbehavior on the cruise ship and denied that they did anything to cause the elevator to malfunction. He states on Facebook ” . . . we had no other incidences or actions that were out of line on the cruise. I’m assuming the “actions” they’re alluding to is their elevator malfunction . . . according to Carnival, we are to blame for the elevator being stuck. There were several of us in the elevator but there was no alarm signal for overweight capacity. We thought it was fine, until it wasn’t . . .  unfortunately there’s no more to the story . . . Our accounts were shutdown from being able to make any purchases on the cruise. On our way out towards customs we were held up and pressured to sign the release of liability. We denied and were here today . . . we’ve been cruising on Ccarnival for over 10 years, as an annual guys trip. It’s unfortunate and confusing that they’d hand us a banishment, but what can we do ya know?”

A Carnival spokesperson was quoted in an article by the Daily Mail, which identified six guests who were stuck in the broken elevator which the cruise line blamed, as saying that there are “always two sides to every story.  We had a group of guests stuck in one of our elevators last week for approximately 30-40 minutes. Our onboard team was summoned to provide assistance. Unfortunately, because of the extensive damage to the elevator doors and cabling caused by the guests, the work took longer than expected.”

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

Video/photo credit: Jacob Burrola / Eric JT Kim

An accident involving the collapse of several large cranes reportedly occurred this afternoon at the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas involving the Oasis of the Seas, resulting in the injury of several shipyard workers.

Video was taken after the accident of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship and surrounding dock.  The cruise ship was in dry dock for refurbishment at the shipyard in Freeport.

A newspaper in the Bahamas, the Tribune, reported on the accident, stating that the dockworker who took the video described the scene after the incident as follows:

“Working on the big Oasis, the ship collapsed, the dock collapsed, the crane collapsed. A couple of people might, don’t know, be missing. I was right there on the dock, working, and just missed it by the grace of God . . .  big accident, big accident. Something the Shipyard will never survive from this one. Dock two is gone, dock two is finished. All the cranes collapsed. Big, big, big disaster. Big, big, big disaster. Disaster, disaster, disaster. I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime.”

The Tribune reported that according to police, “there were several injuries – none of them thought to be life-threatening.” The Bahamas Press which aired the videos did not confirm whether there were injuries.

Royal Caribbean released a press statement conforming damage to the dock and crane, and stating that it was assessing whether there is damage to the ship and injuries to personnel at the scene.

Royal Caribbean’s Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet happened to be on the Oasis of the Seas since its last cruise and took a video this morning of the drydock operations in Freeport.  I doubt that we will see any additional video of the drydock today . . .

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

April 1, 2019 Update: In a subsequent statement, Royal Caribbean states that “shipyard management informs us of eight injuries, none of which are considered life threatening.”

April 2, 2019 Update: A number of photographs were posted online on social media and are available for viewing here.

April 3, 2019 Update:  Royal Caribbean stated via Twitter that it cancelled the sailing dates for April 7, 14, and 21. The cruise line told customers that anyone scheduled to go on the canceled trips will receive a full refund, along with a 100 percent future cruise certificate to apply toward a different sail date.

Travel Weekly reports that the Oasis of the Seas will leave the Grand Bahamas yard to be repaired at a shipyard in Cadiz, Spain.

Photo/video credit: Top – Unidentified dockworker via Bahamas Press; bottom – via Royal Caribbean International Fan Club – Unofficial; photographer unknown.

Sources report that Norwegian Cruise Line will implement keelhauling as a means to motivate crew members to work longer hours on NCL cruise ships.

The ancient maritime form of punishment, once meted out to sailors at sea, involves being tied to a line and pulled along the keel, either from one side of the ship to the other, or under the keel from bow to stern. It dates back to the ancient Rhodian Maritime Code (around 800 B.C.) and was used as late as the 19th century by the Royal Navy and the Dutch Navy until it was abolished as cruel punishment.

NCL CEO Frank Del Rio, who is credited for the new motivational tool, says that he came up with keelhauling after watching his guests participate in the walking “The Plank” for a fee on the Norwegian Getaway.

Cruise executive Del Rio, who mentioned the idea in a recent quarterly earning statement, was quoted as saying “NCL needed something to create motivation for our ship employees while creating excitement for our guests!” Del Rio said that NCL will charge passengers a fee of $19.99 to watch the crew members being keelhauled under the NCL ships.

NCL has imposed every imaginable extra charge on its passengers, including increased room services charges, automatic gratuities and restaurant cover charges, which are diverted away from the crew members to cover executive compensation. He said at the earnings conference “… we have looked across the fleet to identify areas where marginal changes can improve the bottom line… this is a bold move which differentiates us from our competitors and will put money into NCL’s pockets. To put into perspective how these small changes can add up quickly, every dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line.”

NCL is expected to seek a trademark on NCLKeelhauling, as a play on its NCL Freestyling slogan.

In-house lawyers at NCL, who did not wish to be identified, expressed concern that keelhauling probably violates 18 U.S. Code § 114, which prohibits “maiming within maritime and territorial jurisdiction.”  Del Rio said that the U.S. federal statute applies only to state territorial waters, whereas the NCL fleet spends the majority of time in international waters.

Increasing productivity of cruise employees is a pet project of this cruise executive who routinely appears in the galleys of NCL ships to order the cooks to work faster. “Getting our crew members to work 110% remains our goal,” said Del Rio who collected 350 million dollars, himself, last year. “Tying the crew to the mast and publicly flogging them with a cat-o’-nine tails remain options, if we can’t get more work out of our crew.”

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

Interested in this issue? Read similar articles:

Breaking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations.

Royal Caribbean to Homeport Empress of the Seas in Havana.

Photo credit: Walk the plank – NCL;  CEO Del Rio –

Several guests aboard the Carnival Spirit report that a young man went overboard from the cruise ship as it headed toward Noumea, New Caledonia.

A guest sent the following information via email:

“Person reported overboard near coast of Noumea 1 AM cruise ship had to return to middle of the ocean to search at 4 AM.  no-one found. 25 year old middle eastern man. Surveillance of man falling.”

Several other guests stated on Twitter:

The man was reported overboard on the early morning on March 29, 2019. (There is a twelve hour time difference between Miami (EST) and New Caledonia).

The Carnival Spirit departed from Sydney, Australia on March 27th and was scheduled to arrive in Noumea, New Caledonia on March 30th at 8:00 AM local time. The ship was scheduled to call on ports in Vanuatu and New Caledonia before returning to Sydney on April 7th.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, there have been 337 people who have gone overboard since 2000 from cruise ships and large ferries.

Safety at Sea recently wrote an article about Dr. Klein’s data titled Joining the Data Dots: Cruise Ship MOBs. It concludes that the revelation that such a significant number of people have gone overboard during this time period “has prompted a conversation on the industry’s safety practices.” Safety at Sea writes:

“From an average of 1.5 people that fall overboard from cruise ships each month, only 17% are rescued. . . . This incident data should lead to a shift in the way man overboards (MOBs) are regarded in the cruise ship industry and prompt action to better protect against them. While there are undoubtedly cases of passengers willfully (or drunkenly) ignoring safety warnings, one cannot ignore the wider pattern of risk shown by Klein’s data. Cruise lines should certainly veer away from blaming passengers and find better ways of safeguarding them.”

A start would be for cruise lines to install automatic man overboard systems, which have long been required by U.S. law for cruise ships calling on U.S. ports. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology that can track the person at night in the water.

For the few cruise ships (Disney ships and one MSC ship) which have invested in such technology, the system can substantially increase a ship’s response to a guest or crew member going overboard. Most importantly, the system can significantly improve the likelihood of a ship conducting a successful search and rescue.

One such system, by MARSS MOBtronic, has been commercially available since 2010.  There are a number of other reliable MOB systems that have been proven to be reliable, reasonably affordable and readily available to the cruise lines.

For cruise lines like Carnival which have not invested in the technology, ship personnel are forced to conduct a slow, “old school” search of the ship and review hours of CCTV surveillance images to try and figure out if a person went overboard.

The Carnival Spirit began its service in April of 2001. It was refitted for cosmetic purposes before being transferred to sail in Australia in 2012 when it was home ported in Sydney, Australia. The ship sails to New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Zealand. In mid 2018, the Carnival ship was dry-docked for two weeks to undergo another renovation for entertainment and retail purposes.

Carnival is a good example of a cruise line which spends its tax free money collected from its customers on entertainment/retail improvements to its ships rather than investing in life-saving safety technology.

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

Photo credit: AIS data – MarineTraffic; Carnival Spirit in Sydney- Hpeterswald – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Newspapers in Brazil are reporting that yesterday the federal police arrested sixteen passengers aboard the Costa Favolosa cruise ship who were reportedly carrying 300 kilos of cocaine in their luggage.

The Costa cruise ship was in the port in Santos, Brazil, on the coast of São Paulo, en route to Europe.  The newspapers reported that ten Brazilians, three Belgians and three French (eight women and eight men) all under the age of 30 years of age, were arrested and taken into custody.

The Costa ship security personnel reportedly discovered the drugs during an electronic inspection of the baggage. Each piece of luggage also contained around $1,000, which was believe to be an an advance for the transportation of the cocaine. 

The cruise ship was given permission to sail following the arrests.

The Costa Favolosa (photo right) sailed from Sao Paulo, Brazil yesterday and arrived in Rio De Janeiro today. The Costa ship is scheduled to arrive in three ports in Brazil – Salvador De Bahia on March 30th, Maceio on March 31st, and Recife on April 1st – before sailing to Tenerife (Canary Islands) on April 8th and Arrecife (Canary Islands) on April 9th. The ship was then scheduled to arrive in Malaga, Spain on April 11th, Barcelona, Spain on April 13th,  Marseille, France on April 14th, and Savona, Italy on April 15th.

Prior Costa Cruises Drug Busts

For a two year period from 2012 to 2014, as many as thirty-four people who posed as cruise ship passengers on Costa ships participated in a smuggling network that transported hashish from Morocco to Brazil and cocaine from South America to Europe, according to the The Local newspaper in France.

The article also mentioned that the the ill-fated Costa Concordia was reportedly carrying a huge shipment of Mafia-owned cocaine when she sank in January 2012.

We previously reported that several people were arrested with over 16 kilos of cocaine while disembarking the Costa Pacifica in Malaga following a Transatlantic cruise from South America several years ago.

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

Photo credit: Bag of drugs – G1 Santos; and and Costa Favolosa – Andrsvoss, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

The local police in Madeira arrested a dozen people after the police boarded a cruise ship at port in Funchal for involvement in smuggling cocaine weighing around 18 kilograms and worth two million pounds (£) aboard a cruise ship operated by MSC.  The police were assisted by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The police detained twelve people when the MSC Opera cruise ship docked at Funchal on March 24th after sailing from the from the Caribbean, according to the Telegraph newspaper. The MSC ship had previously sailed from Havana (Cuba), Montego Bay (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman), Cozumel (Mexico), Philipsburg (St. Maarten), and St. Johns (Antigua) before crossing the Atlantic.

The cocaine had reportedly been hidden in “crisp” packets (a/k/a bags of chip) which had been stashed in suitcases.

The police arrested six passengers on the cruise ship after it travelled from the Caribbean to Madeira. The other six individuals who were arrested include two Britons and a Dutch national in London, who had  recently travelled to Madeira, where it is believed that they would meet the ship when it docked, according to the Telegraph.

Recent Cruise Drug Busts

The last drug bust on a cruise ship sailing from the Caribbean to Europe occurred in December of 2018 on the Marco Polo, a 425-cabin cruise ship operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages, and involved two British passengers who were arrested for smuggling around 9 or 10 kilos of cocaine.

Recent drug busts include an Oceania crew member who was arrested at Port of Miami for smuggling cocaine  when the Riviera called at port in Miami on January 2, 2019.

Later in January, Mexican authorities reportedly discovered an undisclosed amount of cocaine aboard the MSC Divina while the cruise ship was in port in Cozumel, Mexico. Six packets of cocaine were discovered inside of a compartment behind a toilet in an undisclosed location on the MSC cruise ship.

MSC Cruise Drug Busts

The last drug bust on a MSC cruise ship occured in November of 2018, when United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested seven MSC crew members for smuggling cocaine into the port of Miami aboard the MSC SeasideCBP officers reportedly found six kilos of cocaine and over $100,000 in cash.

There have been other drug busts involving both passengers and crew members involving MSC cruise ships in the past.

In 2010, eight people were convicted of attempting to smuggle over 75 pounds of cocaine (worth many millions of dollars) ashore from the MSC Orchestra when it arrived in Dover from Brazil.

In January of 2011, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office with K-9 dogs raided the MSC Poesia at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale before it sailed and arrested a number of music fans on its Jam Fest cruise for a relatively small quantity of recreational drugs.

In August of 2013, police arrested two crew members from the cruise ship MSC Magnífica, which docked in Spain, on drug trafficking charges after they were caught with 15 kilos of cocaine on the cruise ship.

In November of 2013, a MSC crew member was implicated in a scheme to import ten kilos of cocaine from South America to Italy on the cruise ship MSC Armonia.

In March of 2014, the police in Brazil arrested a crew member on the cruise ship MSC Preziosa for smuggling cocaine.

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

Photo Credit: Cocaine, Crisps and the MSC Opera – Telegraph newspaper.


Yesterday, the U.S. Department of State via the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) issued its annual report regarding the Bahamas.  The report (which you can read here) concludes, in part, that:

“There is serious risk from crime in Nassau, and considerable risk in Freeport. Crime represents the country’s primary security threat. Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) statistics for 2018 highlight an overall drop in crime from 2017. According to RBPF statistics, the number of murders decreased by 25% compared to 2017. The number of robberies and attempted robberies decreased; however, the number of rapes increased slightly. The majority of murders occurred in the southern portion of New Providence (the island home to Nassau and Paradise Island). June was the deadliest month, followed by January and December. In Grand Bahama, the number of murders decreased by 45%, but overall crime remained constant, with drug trafficking as the major concern.

Despite the publicized numbers, incidents involving U.S. citizens (mostly rape, sexual assault, and robbery/theft) increased by 32%. Armed robbery, property crime, purse snatching, theft, fraud, and sexual assault remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists . . . (emphasis added).

The Bahamian government loosely regulates the water sports rental industry. U.S. citizens have reported sexual assaults by jet-ski operators for a number of years. According to the criminal complaints, the majority of these sexual assaults occurred on relatively “safe” beaches on Paradise Island and along Cable Beach, which tourists frequent heavily . . .”

The U.S. State Department issued a warning about crime in the Bahamas (involving Nassau and Freeport primarily) last January (as well as well over a dozen similar warnings in the last several years), when it stated:

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas. Although the family islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands . . . .  Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists.”

The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, however, has pushed back against the crime warnings coming from the U.S. (and Canada).  In the last two months, the Tribune newspaper reported the tourism minister’s arguments that Nassau is no more dangerous than any major city and, moreover, that it is more dangerous to cruise on ships operated by a Miami-based cruise line than it is to vacation in Nassau. The Tribune also reported on the crime statistics maintained by the U.S. Transportation Department in an article titled Sexual Assaults The Most Reported Criminal Activity On Cruise Ships Making Calls To The United States.

Yesterday, at the same time that the U.S. State Department issued its OSAC report on the Bahamas, the Tribune newspaper reported on the last quarterly report by the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the number of sexual assaults which occured on U.S. based cruise ships, including ships calling on Nassau and Freeport. The DOT data indicates that there were twenty-two sexual assaults reported in the last three months of 2018: Carnival – 8, Disney – 3, NCL – 4, Oceania – 1, and Royal Caribbean – 6.  There was a total of eighty-two sexual assaults on cruise ships for all of 2018. (There is little chance of a victim of a robbery during a cruise although there are thefts reported during cruises. The DOT does not track theft of items under $10,000 because the cruise industry would not agree to language in a proposed bill including such a reporting requirement).

We have characterized Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world for the last many years. But the fact remains that in a comparison between Nassau and a cruise ship, a cruise tourist sailing to Nassau has a higher chance of being sexualy assaulted on a cruise ship than ashore in Nassau.

In our view, this does not mean that it is safe to visit Nassau (as the U.S. State Department warnings indicate) but is more of an indication of the danger of being sexually assaulted on a cruise.

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