A twenty-three (23) year-old man from Scotland went overboard from the MSC Euribia last week. We first heard of the incident via an inquiry on Facebook asking for information about a young man missing from the MSC ship.

We subsequently learned that the full name of the passenger is “Liam Brody Wilkie Jones,” from Dundee, Scotland. One newspaper, Daily Record, referred to the young man as “Liam Jones.” Mr. Jones was traveling with family members and friends on the MSC cruise ship. He reportedly was last seen on deck by his sister after texting his wife back home complaining that he was feeling seasick, according to the Scottish Sun.

The circumstances of Mr. Jones going overboard are less than clear. Family members on Facebook commented that they were frustrated by the lack of communications by the cruise line and the fact that there was no timely announcement on the ship that a person went overboard. There reportedly is absolutely no indication that the ship took efforts to promptly conduct a search and rescue. The MSC cruise ship reportedly did not alter speed or direction, deploy rescue craft, or use spotlights.

This is the sixth person to go overboard from a MSC cruise ship in just the last four months. One passenger died from the fall, one survived and recovered, and three guests and one crew member disappeared in the water.

On February 14, 2024, a 72-year-old U.S. passenger died after falling from MSC’s World Europa into the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta.

On February 4, 2024, a passenger fell off the MSC Bellissima cruise ship traveling from Taiwan to Okinawa. According to the Taiwan News, the passenger was located, pulled from the water and then rushed to a hospital, where he was reported to be in good condition following medical treatment.

On December 30, 2023, a passenger went overboard from the MSC Preziosa after the MSC cruise ship left the port of Santos heading to New Year’s Eve festivities in Rio de Janeiro.

A passenger went overboard from the MSC Armonia during a transatlantic cruise to Brazil on December 15, 2023.

A crew member went overboard from the MSC Seascape in waters off of Puerto Rico on November 15, 2023.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein‘s definitive data, Mr. Jones is the 405th person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship since 2000.

Maritime law requires ship owners to immediately take steps to search and rescue passengers (or crew members) as soon as they realize that someone has gone overboard. As a practical matter, this typically involves turning the ship around to the area where the person left the ship. The crew will often deploy rescue lifecraft and utilize spotlights to search for the overboard person. The captain usually makes announcements that the ship is involved in looking for an overboard guest.

Sometimes the person is not witnessed going overboard. If the ship is not equipped with CCTV cameras which are actively monitored, the ship will continue to sail on until a family member on the ship or other traveling companion reports the person missing. The ship would then perform a cabin-by-cabin search on the ship for the person as well as manually look through CCTV images to see if they can locate the missing person and determine whether the person actually went overboard. Announcements will be made for the passenger to report to the guest relations desk.

In this case, it is highly unusual for a person to go overboard without any announcement being made.

In the U.S., there is a federal statute which requires that cruise ships install automatic man overboard (MOB) systems. These systems utilize motion detection, infra-red and radar technology to send an alarm to the bridge when someone goes over the rails and then track the person in the water even at night. Such systems lead to a much quicker detection and substantially increase the chances of a successful rescue. Otherwise, searching for an overboard person at night is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

There is no legal requirement outside of the U.S. for cruise ships to have such automatic detection systems installed. At least one MSC ship has the technology installed. In 2017, we reported that MSC Cruises announced that it had installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and was planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

Back in 2017, MSC Cruises indicated that it developed an “intelligent video capturing and analysis system” in collaboration with “security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.” The Swiss-based cruise line announced that it has tested the new man overboard system on the company’s newest ship which debuted in June (2017).  MSC reported that “through over 25,000 hours of video analysis, extensive software testing and continuous algorithmic updates, the system has now reached a confirmed accuracy level of 97%.”

MSC touted at the time that the MOB data and images are analyzed by two separate and independent image processing systems which significantly lower false alerts. “Once the alarm is activated in case of an overboard, an acoustic signal and light will notify the ship’s security officer, in a central security room, who can immediately retrieve and review the images and data and immediately notify the bridge to begin rescue efforts,” according to  Seatrade Cruise News. MSC Cruises announced MSC Meraviglia is “fitted with an integrated video surveillance system to optimize security monitoring on board the ship and which will allow, among other features, for the speediest intervention in the unlikely event a person or object falls overboard.”

In July 2019, a cruise guest in her 40’s went overboard from the MSC Meraviglia but was promptly rescued after the auto MOB alerted the crew that she went overboard.

Unfortunately, nearly five years later, it appears that MSC has still not installed this successful automatic MOB system on any of its twenty-one other cruise ships. This latest case seems to indicate that the MSC Euribia did not have a detection system installed.

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Image Credit: Liam Jones – Daily Record; MSC EuribaND44 CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia.

A gastrointestinal disease outbreak aboard the Holland America Line (HAL) Koningsdam cruise ship has sickened 110 passengers and crew members, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC found that 98 of 2,522 (3.89%) guests and 12 of 961 (1.25%) crew member have become ill with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting during the current cruise on the HAL ship which began its voyage on February 17, 2024.

Stool samples tested by the CDC were found to contain norovirus.

This is the third disease outbreak this year involving a cruise ship. The Celebrity Constellation and Cunard’s Queen Victoria previously experiencing norovirus outbreaks which sickened 100 and 154 people respectively. There were fourteen gastrointestinal outbreaks in 2023, all caused by norovirus

Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causes of norovirus outbreaks in contaminated food or water. The common reaction of a cruise line in response to a gastrointestinal outbreak is to blame the passengers and imply that the shipborne illness was caused by passengers failing to wash their hands. But a guest can wash their hands and use hand sanitizers all day long but still become ill if the food is prepared by an infected galleyhand.

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Image credit: Norovirus – Graham Beards at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0 commons / wikimedia; HAL Koningsdam Kees Torn – KONINGSDAM, CC BY-SA 2.0 commons / wikimedia.

The Miami-Dade Police Department arrested a twenty-one (21) year old man from Georgia for sexually propositioning a fourteen (14) year-old boy in the sauna of the Explorer of the Seas, according to numerous local new accounts. The police charged cruise passenger Anish Shan of Columbus, Georgia with two felony violations of Florida law: (1) lewd and lascivious conduct, and (2) lewd and lascivious exhibition on a child under 16.

The crime occurred when the Explorer of the Seas was on a five day cruise to the Western Caribbean which left Miami on March 3rd and sailed to Falmouth (Jamaica), Labadie (Haiti), and returned to Miami on March 8th. Last Tuesday, when the Royal Caribbean ship was in international waters sailing to Jamaica, Mr. Sahn approached the 14-year-old child in the sauna at around 7 p.m. According to the news accounts, Shan asked the boy how old he was.

“Police said after the boy told him he was 14, Shan ‘started to masturbate’ all while ‘making eye contact with the victim.’ The arrest report states Shan then asked the boy if he’d ever had oral sex before. Police said after the boy replied ‘no,’ Shan then ‘solicited oral sex’ from the teen, which he declined.”

The news accounts state that it is unclear whether Shan was detained at sea following the alleged incident, but the Miami-Dade police took him into custody Friday after the cruise ship returned to Port Miami. Following his arrest, Shah was released from the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $12,500 bond.

This incident follows the recent news from the Symphony of the Seas where a thirty-four (34) year old crew member employed by Royal Caribbean secretly placed a spy-camera in the bathroom of a mother and her two adult daughters who were sharing a cabin. The Broward County Sheriff’s office and the FBI arrested the crew member on multiple charges of video voyeurism and child pornography after his camera and electronic devices indicated that he also videotaped children as young as five to ten years of age in various forms of undress. Read: Cruise Ship Worker Accused of Hiding Cameras in Bathrooms to Spy on Guests.

Interested in this issue? Read: Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships.

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Image Credit: Explorer of the SeasKees Torn – SA 2.0, commons / Wikimedia; Anish Shan – Miami Dade Police via Mugshots Zone.


Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady has created quite a stir over the last several months when it called on Hobart, Tasmania during its regular three-six day cruises from Melbourne and Sydney. The cruise ship has been extensively photographed belching out smoke which fills the port, sparking a heated debate whether the public is seeing just harmless steam, as the cruise line (and some government officials) want you to believe, or toxic smoke endangering the residents of the waterfront community.

The Resilient Lady Arrives in Port Smoking Heavily

Australia’s Mercury newspaper addressed the spectacle with a (paywell-protected) article entitled “Colossal Cruise Ship’s Smoke Plumes Cause Alarm,” stating:

“A gargantuan cruise liner that departed Hobart on Sunday has kicked off a debate over the potential air pollution caused by large ships, after the 278m vessel belched plumes of smoke across the Derwent River.”

Other Australian newspapers, such asthe Pulse Tasmania, published dramatic photographs depicting incredible plumes of smoke emanating from the Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship which repositioned to Australia last December. The Pulse article states that since its inaugural visit to Tasmania in 2023, the Resilient Lady has become a “regular topic in community groups on social media.” Thick smoke has filled the Hobart Waterfront every time the Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship docks in the city “causing concerns for locals.”

The Pulse contained questionable opinions of Wes Ford, the Director of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Tasmania, who did not believe the ship was a “significant issue” and claimed that emissions from the ship are allegedly “within acceptable limits.”

The newspaper quoted Mr. Ford, who admitted that “he did not know the exact cause of the emissions,” suggesting that “much of the visible smoke was likely steam and exhaust gases.” But the fact is that the EPA in Australia, which previously operated a monitoring station in Hobart, decommissioned the compliance system and no longer tests ship emissions. So it appears that governmental official Ford has no basis to claim that the voluminous emissions, clearly shown in these photographs, are somehow within whatever limits may apply.

Who Ya Going to Believe Me Or Your Lying Eyes?

We regularly hear some people, usually hard core cruise fans or occasionally an engineer employed by a cruise line, argue that photographs showing cruise ship stacks billowing out smoke like this are mostly emitting just “harmless steam.” I am reminded of the famous quote from Groucho Marx from the 1933 Marx Brothers film Duck Soup who asked: “who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Decades later, comedian Richard Pryor used the expression when his wife caught him in bed with another woman: “who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

Some cruise fans and supposed experts are essentially asking the public, who are naturally aghast at cruise ships belching out incredible amounts of smoke, not to believe their own eyes. They may claim “its just steam” don’t worry. Or they falsely suggest that what the public is seeing it just due to the vapors which will will somehow magically disappear.

Whether It’s Smoke or Smoke and Steam, Cruise Ships Are Dumping Toxic Sludge

But the debate of whether it’s just steam versus toxic emissions misses the indisputable fact that what is shown is the result of the scrubber systems operating to try and remove the residue from burning heavy fuel oil (“HFO”) with a high sulfur content and non-combustible soot from the ship’s emissions. The residual pollutants which scrubbers try to remove from the air are called “scrubber sludge” or simply “sludge, which is a toxic mix of metals, such as lead, nickel and zinc, as well as hydrocarbons, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds. In the “open loop” systems commonly used by most cruise ships, the toxic and acidic sludge is then dumped back into the ocean. But the fact is that the soot and toxic by-products of burning bunker fuel don’t just magically disappear. Most ships temporarily accumulate the toxic sludge after when the scrubber washes the stacks with water and then dump the sludge into the water.

Yes, some ports prohibit this nasty practice but most cruise ships engage in dumping scrubber sludge into the water. The scrubbers essentially turn air pollution into water pollution. See, Smoke and Mirrors: Cruise Line Scrubbers Turn Air Pollution Into Water Pollution.

Mr. Ford essentially admits this while trying to convince the public that the smoke is not really a problem, but just a mistaken perception, saying “so we see an exhaust system on a large ship that has a complicated mechanism for taking some of the more nasties out of the exhaust system. That is then discharged into the marine environment 12 nautical miles off the coast.”

But the truth is, as we have seen, some cruise ships dump the “nasties” (Mr. Ford’s word) not far-out-at-sea but in ports (like Princess cruise ships did in Alaskan ports). And some cruise ships have experienced a malfunction of their scrubbers (like the Carnival Magic which discharged five tons of sludge in Grand Turk).

Star Princess Scrubber Sludge at Berth 4 in Ketchikan, Alaska (photo credit City of Ketchikan)

Sir Richard Branson Responds to the Embarrassing Spectacle and Orders Resilient Lady to No Longer Burn HFO in Nobart, But is This Just a Temporary Fix?

Virgin Voyages’ founder Sr. Richard Branson has tried to defuse the ugly debate by ordering the Resilient Lady to switch fuel and no longer burn NFO (at least in Hobart) which was the root cause of the pollution in the first place.

This is a quick fix and only a short term solution to a long term problem. How will the residents in other port communities like Melbourne or Sydney respond? Will they criticize the Virgin Voyages’ ship when it arrives and begins to stink up these ports? What will the residents do once the Resilient Lady switches back to HFO and residents begin to choke from ship pollution?

My thought is that Virgin will be satisfied to simply “kick the can down the road,” so to speak, and hope that the bad press dies down. Like other cruise lines, Virgin is not going to switch from lower cost HFO simply to silence its critics.

If you are concerned with the trend of cruise ships to continue to burn HFO and dump toxic scrubber sludge at sea, please contact us. We are interested in seeing additional photos showing the emissions from this cruise ship and other ships in Virgin’s fleet. We remain, of course, interested in the conduct of the regular polluters, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

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Image credit: Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady – Pulse Tasmania; scrubber sludge from Star Princess in Ketchikan, Alaska – City of Ketchikan via  KRBD Community Radio;

Today, the Miami New Times, via Alexa DeLuca, reported that a second Disney crew member on the Disney Dream cruise ship was arrested at Port Everglades for possession and transportation of child pornography. Acting on tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), boarded the Disney cruise ship and arrested the 28 year-old Disney crew member after reviewing his internet devices and finding numerous materials depicting graphic child sexual abuse “with children between the approximate ages of 6 and 14.”

Two weeks ago, we reported that a Homeland Security task force arrested Disney crew member Alvin Gonzalez, age 49, on the Disney Dream cruise ship, after they located a video on his cell phone which showed two children having sex. 

The Miami New Times article, which mentions two other cruise ship perverts who were arrested on child pornography charges, comes at a time “when allegations of cruise ship workers’ sexual misconduct involving children have been in national focus.” The other arrest mentioned by the New Times involved another Filipino crew member employed by Celebrity Cruises aboard the Celebrity Silhouette as a youth counselor.

That case involved a six (6) year-old child who was taking a cruise with her parents aboard the Royal Caribbean-owned cruise ship when she was molested by a crew member known as “CJ,” later identified as Cris John Pentinio Castor.  Her parents had dropped the little girl off at a “Camp at Sea program” at the youth center on the cruise ship on the morning of November 27, 2023. The youth counselor inappropriately touched the child under her clothing “in the vicinity of her vagina” while she played a video game in the youth center. When confronted by investigating FBI agents, the crew member admitted that he had molested at least three (3) other children in the youth facility on the Celebrity cruise ship.
The other crew member mentioned by the Miami New Times was a Royal Caribbean crew member who described himself as a music director of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Forty-four (44) year-old Dana Moran reportedly came to the attention of Australian Border Force officers last June of 2023 when he flew into Brisbane International Airport. Following a baggage search at the airport, six electronic devices were found and seized, five of which were later determined to contain almost 600 images and videos depicting child abuse.

One of the most egregious set of circumstances involving the sexual exploitation of children involved two Princess ship employees on the Coral Princess who were sentenced to 45 years in prison for their involvement in creating and/or distributing child pornography. One of the men met a sixteen (16) year-old child who was taking an Alaskan cruise with her parents while he was working as an assistant cruise director. He repeatedly texted and called the minor after she left the cruise and he later arranged to meet her in a hotel where he filmed having sex with the girl.

Daniel Scott Crow, employed by Princess Cruises as an assistant cruise director, was sentenced in 2022 by Southern District of Florida Judge Jose Martinez to thirty (30) years in prison for enticing an underage child to engage in sex with him and take part in the production of child pornography. Crow was thirty-five (35) years of age when he met the sixteen (16) year old child during a cruise in July 2019. A press release by the Department of Justice (DOJ) sets forth the basic facts of the disturbing sexual crimes committed by Crow.

A second Princess crew member, Angelo Victor Fernandes, from India, age 34, worked on the same Princess cruise ship as Crow. Fernandes was friends with Crow and the two men discussed “obtaining children for sex.” Fernandes admitted to federal agents when he was arrested that he was sexually attracted to Crow and sent him sexually explicit videos and child pornography in exchange for videos of Crow masturbating. The two crew members discussed travelling to sexually abuse children as young as five years of age. Judge Aileen Cannon, of the Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida, sentenced Fernandes to 188 months (over 15 and1/2 years) in prison. A press release by the DOJ sets forth the basic facts of the crimes committed by Fernandes.

You can read about these two Princess Cruises employees sentenced to combined jail terms of 45 years here.

Yes, cruising with children presents risks that most parents would not consider. Most cruise lines do not perform background checks which include child predator databases. Most cruise lines and Disney, in particular, require strict confidentiality orders in sexual assault cases. So the public does not hear about many cases of sexual assault and molestation at sea. A U.S. Congressional report in 2013 found that a third of reported sexual assaults aboard cruise ships involved minors.

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Image credits: Disney DreamAjmexico from Melbourne, USA – CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia; Amiel Joseph Trazo – Broward Sheriff’s Office via Miami New Times; Disney Dream – Ajmexico from Melbourne, USA – CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia; Alvin Gonzalez – Broward County Sheriff’s Department via NBC-6 Miami; Celebrity Silhouette – Arvid Olson/Flickr via Miami New Times; Celebrity crew member – Facebook and BrowardMugShot on Instagram;  Royal Caribbean cruise ship next to dana Moran article – Courier Mail; Dana Lachlan Moran – Facebook and Instagram; Daniel Crow and Anglo Fernandes – anonymous; Coral Princess – Reuters: Marco Bello via ABC Australia

The Miami Herald reports today on a disturbing case aboard the Carnival Magic where a cruise guest, who became irate when asked to be quit in a theater on the ship, “smashed his cocktail glass into a man’s face and beat him during a theater show.”

The vicious physical assault was first reported by a local news station in Norfolk, Virginia, WVEW 13News Now who reported in October that the victim, who was cut in the face, let out “a blood-curdling scream” when he was attacked.

The U.S. federal government identified the man as Michael Truman, age 39, who committed the vicious assault. He pled guilty to assaulting a fellow passenger with a dangerous weapon. He was charged in federal court for the district of Virginia given the fact that the assailant resides in Portsmouth, Virgina and the Carnival ship sailed from Norfolk, Virginia.

According to a Department of Justice’s press statement:

“Michael Truman, 39, … was loudly disrupting a theater show aboard the cruise ship when he was asked twice by a fellow passenger to quiet down. After Truman refused, the passenger began to leave the area to request assistance from a cruise ship employee. Truman then smashed a cocktail glass into the victim’s face, got on top of the victim, and began striking him further. The broken glass caused significant lacerations to the victim’s face, requiring more than a dozen stitches.” (emphasis added) An article today by USA TODAY states that the face wound requires nineteen stitches.

The Miami Herald article contains a photograph of the broken bar glass used to smash and cut the victim in the face.  

The assailant was found in his cabin after the attack bleeding from his right hand. According to the Miami Herald, the court file shows that the assailant told ship security “he did not know how he got the cut on his hand, claimed he had consumed (only) three or four drinks of alcohol that day, and offered to stay in his room for the rest of the cruise.”

:The wife of the man who officials said was beaten witnessed the assault and told investigators Truman appeared intoxicated,” according to an arrest affidavit in the court record.

Carnival Cruise Line is well known for its drunken bar brawls fueled by all-you-can-drink packages and inadequately trained security staff whose main function seems to be trying to stop passengers from filming the out-of-control violence. Carnival seems to have made a corporate decision to tolerate the debauchery of drunken in order to maximize profits.

It comes as no surprise that the last year of cruise crime data (2023) showed that there were at least fourteen (14) incidents of physical assault with serious bodily injury reported on Carnival cruise ships to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in year 2023. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires that cruise lines report certain crimes, such as physical assaults and rape/sexual assaults, to the DOT. In addition, Carnival has by far the highest number of sexual assaults and rapes of any cruise line on the high seas. Carnival ships have a higher per capita sexual assault rate (per 100,000) than 27 states in the U.S.

There appears to be a direct correlation between excessive alcohol and violence and violence against women on Carnival ships. Don’t expect Carnival to clamp down on selling excessive booze to its guests anytime soon, given the fact that has over $30,000,000,000 (billion) of long term debt.

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Image credit: Carnival Magic Norfolk, Virginia – Jim Walker; broken bar glass – FBI via Miami Herald.

A 72-year-old U.S. passenger died yesterday after falling from a passenger ship into the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta, according to the local press in Malta.

The incident happened at about 5 P.M. on February 14, 2024 when the cruise ship was docked at the Grand Harbour in Valletta. Maltese police said that “preliminary investigations revealed that the victim, who was a passenger on the same ship, fell into the sea.”

The man was provided first aid by a medical team while an ambulance took him to a local hospital for further medical treatment. The man was certified dead a short time later.

The press in Malta did not mention the name of the cruise ship, but several sources identify the ship as the MSC World Europa. CruiseMapper reports that “according to Port Valletta’s schedule, the only cruise liner visiting on February 14th was the MSC World Europa.” Dr. Ross Klein’s site Cruise Junkie also identifies this particular MSC cruise ship. Doug Parker’s Cruise Radio mentions the MSC World Europa as well.

Unless I am missing something, there have been no accounts I have seen from other passengers of this latest overboard via Twitter or Facebook.

There have been four other people who have gone overboard in the last three months from MSC cruise ships. The last person (a passenger) overboard from a cruise ship which we reported on involved the MSC Preziosa on December 31, 2023.

Since then, on February 4th, a passenger fell off the MSC Bellissima cruise ship traveling from Taiwan to Okinawa. According to the Taiwan News, the passenger was located, pulled from the water and then rushed to a hospital, where he was reported to be in good condition following medical treatment.

A passenger went overboard from the MSC Armonia during a transatlantic cruise to Brazil on December 15, 2023 and a crew member went overboard from the MSC Seascape in waters off of Puerto Rico on November 15, 2023.

We organized a fundraiser to help the MSC crew member’s surviving mother and two sisters:

This latest overboard brings the total number of crew and guests overboard from MSC cruise ships to five in just the last three months. One passenger died from the fall, one survived and recovered, and two guests and one crew member disappeared in the water.

There have been 404 people who have gone overboard from a cruise ship or ferry since year 2000, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.

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Image credit: MSC World EuropaDidier Duforest – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; MSC Bellissima Hashar CC BY-SA 4.0 commons / wikimedia; MSC PreziosaHarry Garland – CC0 commons / wikimedia via Flickr; MSC ArmoniaWolfgang Manousek CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia; MSC SeascapeCrew Center .

It’s been about a week since cruise passengers Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer disembarked from the Carnival Elation and visited the Pirate’s Cove resort in Freeport, Bahamas where two Bahamian employees, at a beach resort advertised by Carnival, reportedly sexually assaulted them. You can read more about the facts of this terrible situation below:

Over the past week, Carnival and Pirate’s Cove have both tried to distance themselves from the fall -out from these horrific alleged crimes. Carnival’s PR representatives released a statement which claims that the attack occurred when Ms. Dobson and Ms. Shearer were “ashore in Freeport, Bahamas on an independent shore excursion.”

As we mentioned in our initial article, the legal duty of a cruise line to warn guests of the danger of crimes in ports of call is the same regardless of whether they are on an excursion promoted and sold by the cruise line or whether the guests selected the tour on their own.

There are a number of online discussions taking place regarding the potential legal responsibility of a cruise line when a guest is injured during a crime ashore during an excursion. Many people erroneously assume that there is no potential liability of the cruise line unless the crime occurred during an excursion sponsored by the cruise line. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The case law in this jurisdiction clearly indicates that there is an ongoing legal duty throughout the cruise to warn guests of not only the danger of crimes on the ship but during shore excursions ashore. This is true regardless of whether the excursion is a “private” tour or an excursion officially advertised, sponsored and sold by the cruise line.

A Cruise is Not Considered to be Point to Point Travel

The courts have long drawn a distinction between “point to point” travel offered by an airline which clearly has no obligation to its passengers once they leave the airplane, and a cruise vacation where the cruise lines advertise (and profit from) the ports of call. Cruise lines have an ongoing duty to warn their passengers throughout the cruise experience. The decision makes sense. The cruise lines frequent the ports where they call at least a weekly basis; they have agents in the ports; and accordingly, they are in a position to know far more about the ports than a passenger. 

The Carlisle Decision in 1985

Nearly 40 years ago, a state appellate court in Florida held that a cruise line owes its passengers a duty to warn of known dangers beyond the point of debarkation in places where passengers are invited or reasonably expected to visit. The seminal case is Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., S.A, 475 So. 2d 248 (Fla. 1985).

The Carlisle case arises from a terrible incident involving four passengers aboard the S.S. Dolphin on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas operated by Dolphin Cruise Line (which I previously represented). The passengers were attracted to this particular cruise by promotional brochures advertising the beautiful beaches of Nassau. Upon arriving in Nassau, the two couples rented a jeep and headed for the beaches. Following the advice of the ship’s cruise director, they traveled to a secluded beach where they were ambushed by three masked gunmen who opened fire on them with shotguns. All four of them were wounded. Mr. Carlisle later died from a gunshot wound to his head. After the incident, the survivors learned from members of the ship’s crew that other tourists and a member of the ship’s crew had been victims of violent acts perpetrated in various places on the island. Bahamian police reported that the particular beach where plaintiffs were attacked was “very bad.”

A Cruise Line’s Duty to its Passengers Does Not End at the Gangway

Dolphin denied that it had any obligation to passengers off of the cruise ship and further denied that it had a duty to warn of crime in the ports of call where it disembarked its passengers. The appellate court in Carlisle disagreed, holding that the cruise line’s legal duty to its passengers does not end at the gangway and it must warn of dangers where the passenger is invited to, or may reasonably be expected to visit. 

Cruise Lines Try to Escape Liability When They Take Passengers to Dangerous Ports of Call

The federal trial courts in this jurisdiction (where cruise passengers are required to file suit) have applied Carlisle, but the cruise lines have been trying to chip away at it for years. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been trying to convince federal judges that they have no liability to the passengers once they step foot in port and they do not have to warn of dangers that they know about but that their passengers don’t.

Expanding CarlisleChaparro v. Carnival in 2012

In 2012, in a case we handled, the cruise lines received a major set-back when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court for Florida) agreed with the rationale of the Carlisle decision and stated that cruise lines do in fact have an obligation to warn cruise passengers of the danger of crime off their ships. The case is Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir, 2012).

The case involved a 15 year old girl who was celebrating her quinceanera with her parents and brother on a Carnival cruise (the Carnival Victory). One of the ports-of-call was St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unbeknownst to the Chaparros, but well known to Carnival, was the fact that the capital city of St. Thomas, and particularly an area known as Coki Beach, at Coki Point, had become the scene of rampant gang related violence and numerous shootings. In fact, just a few months before the incident in which Liz Marie was shot and killed, no less an authority than the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands had predicted that innocent bystanders would be caught up in these shootings. His predictions were quoted in U.S. Virgin Islands newspapers.

Nevertheless, cruise lines, including Carnival, continued to promote and sell excursions to Coki Beach/Coki Point. In fact, one of Carnival’s crew members recommended Coki Beach to the Chaparro family. The Chaparro family visited Coki Beach, although not on the Carnival-promoted and sold excursion, opting instead for a less expensive excursion to the area. When the excursion bus was leaving the area, Liz Marie was shot and killed, and died in her father’s arms, when gunfire broke out at the funeral of a gang member who had been killed only days before in a shoot-out.

Although the duty to warn is well established in state court, and has been accepted by most of the federal district court judges in the Southern District of Florida where the vast majority of cruise line cases are filed, the duty to warn passengers of dangers ashore had never previously been squarely addressed by the Eleventh Circuit.

Carnival argued that the Third District Court of Appeal’s Carlisle decision represented an unwarranted expansion of maritime law beyond the boundaries of the cruise vessel itself. The Eleventh Circuit specifically rejected that argument, finding “the rule in Carlisle consonant with the federal maritime standard of ordinary reasonable care under the circumstances.”

You can read our summary of the case here.

We retained appellate specialist Phil Parrish to handle the winning appeal which affirmed the legal duty to warn of dangers ashore, even on excursions not promoted or sold by the cruise lines.

Carnival Misleadingly Claims that Pirate’s Cove in an Independent Excursion

While claiming that Pirate’s Cove is supposedly an “independent” tour, Carnival has simultaneously tried to erase all evidence that it promoted Pirate’s Cove to guests on its cruise ships and would charge a fee (from $56.99 to $109.99) for the excursion.

Carnival Cruise Line scrubbed the above promotional information from its website after two of its cruise guests from the Carnival Elation reported that they were sexually assaulted at the Pirate’s Cove resort.

Before it recently scrubbed the information from its website, Carnival encouraged its guests to buy an excursion to Pirate’s Cove and “enjoy true Bahamian relaxation at Pirate’s Cove catering to Carnival guests, located just west of the historic Taino Beach.”  In its now deleted information, Carnival promoted this particular resort which it characterized as a “picturesque” beach with “experienced, hospitable and cordial staff (who) will ensure you have a memorial visit.” The resort sells food and offers entertainment while conducting zipline and water park/jet ski activities primarily for cruise guests. A quick search of the internet shows many YouTube pages, Cruise Critic reviews and other sites discussing the Carnival-Pirate’s Cove connection.

Yes, its a sad fact that when two of its guests from one of its cruise ships were reportedly drugged and raped during a shore excursion, a billion-dollar corporation like Carnival would amateurishly try to cover-up the truth that it promoted tours to this resort.

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Image credit: Carnival’s now deleted website page promoting Pirate’s Cove; CBS News – crime advisory for the Bahamas and interview with Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer; Carnival funship funnel – Carnival Twitter; Photos from the Carnival Elation – Dongayla Dobson Facebook via Daily Mail;  Carnival Elation – Jersyko, CC BY-SA 3.0 commons / wikimedia.

The recent news from the Bahamas where two young U.S. women from a Carnival ship were drugged and raped involved a foreseeable, horrific crime at a Bahamian resort promoted by the cruise line, according to the victims.  Earlier this week, the two young women, who are from the state of Kentucky, sailed on the Carnival Elation from Jacksonville to Freeport in the Bahamas and went to a resort promoted by Carnival (Pirate’s Cove Resort) after paying the cruise line shore excursion fee of $56.99. Carnival claims that the excursion was an independent shore excursion although it appears clear that Carnival promoted this particular resort to its passengers and characterized it as a “picturesque” beach with “experienced, hospitable and cordial staff (who) will ensure you have a memorial visit.” Before they were able to return to the cruise ship, two men believed to be employees of the Bahamian resort reportedly drugged and raped them.

Above: a portion of Carnival Cruise Line’s promotional information selling excursions to Pirate’s Cove before the cruise line scrubbed it from its website.

Cruise passengers Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, who have used their real names in media interviews, are both 31 years of age. They report being served alcohol by uniformed staff members at the Pirate’s Cove beach resort during an excursion recommended and sold by Carnival Cruise Line (Carnival’s promotional information for the excursion has been scrubbed from Carnival’s website). Their drinks were reportedly spiked with drugs, later determined to include opiates and benzodiazepines. Security footage from the resort reportedly shows that shortly after receiving the drinks, the women were barely able to stand as they were led away to a bathroom by the two resort employees and both raped by the two men. (In an interview with the Nassau Guardian, the resort claims that the surveillance footage does not support their claims but provides no explanation for the alleged discrepancy). The Bahamian press has not named the two suspects, reporting only that a “54-year-old man from Eight Mile Rock and a 40-year-old male from South Bahamia” were arrested.

Ms. Dobson and Ms. Shearer both are now taking anti-retoviral HIV medication, after they were examined and treated on the Carnival cruise ship. The women told a media outlet in Kentucky that they have “bruises up and down” their legs which are confirmed by photographs taken after the rapes.

Both women complained that the Royal Bahamian Police officers allegedly “treated them like criminals” and “refused to give them rape kits.”

Carnival, Pirates Cove and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Push Back

It appears that the cruise line, excursion resort and local police are all disputing some of the facts surrounding the crime. Carnival disputes that this crime occurred during a cruise-sponsored excursion (although the cruise line faces the same legal exposure for not warning its guests of the heightened danger of rape in the Bahamas regardless of whether the excursion was sponsored or a private venture). Pirate’s Cove claims that the women “refused to be transported to the hospital” and the local police were quoted in the Bahamian press stating that the women allegedly declined emergency medical treatment. However, the women informed U.S. media outlets that they were informed that if they went to the local hospital, their return to the cruise ship would not be guaranteed and they were both concerned that they were not traveling with passports. The medical team on the Carnival cruise ship eventually examined the two victims and performed testing which revealed the presence of drugs and the absence of alcohol in the women.

The fact that the cruise line, excursion vendor and police are trying to raise doubts about these horrific crimes is consistent with Bahamian governmental officials who have worked overtime to protect the Bahamas’s reputation and image as a carefree, enjoyable and safe tourist destination. The Bahamas began to push back against U.S. travel warnings as soon as they were issued. Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis responded to the crime advisories about travel to his country, stressing that the government “is alert, attentive and proactive to ensure that The Bahamas remains a safe and welcoming destination.”

Crime Advisories for the Bahamas

Shortly before the women’s cruise, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 2 travel advisory for the Bahamas due to an increase in violent crime, specifically recommending increased caution on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama. The warning mentioned not only violent crime like burglaries and armed robberies, but “sexual assaults in both tourist and non-tourist areas” as well. Before the State Department warning, the United States Embassy in the Bahamas issued a “security alert” on January 24th. It urged travelers to “exercise extreme caution” in Nassau in the wake of 18 murders in the city since January 1st.

Neither woman state that they were aware of the U.S. crime warnings for the Bahamas and they did not receive any warnings from Carnival before or during their arrival in the Bahamas.

Cruise Lines Have A Legal Duty to Warn Passengers of Dangers in Ports of Call

Cruise lines, or course, have a legal duty to warn passengers of dangers which exist not only on their ships but in ports in which they call on.

Did Carnival Warn Its Guests of the Heightened Risk of Sexual Assault and Other Violent Crime in the Bahamas?

Over the years, we have seen some cruise lines issue warnings to passengers about crime in some ports of call. Royal Caribbean, for example, issued letters to passengers several years ago warning about the danger of crime in Nassau. But many cruise lines, like Carnival, do not issue warnings yet continue to promote shore excursion, for financial reasons, into dangerous ports of call.

As we will discuss in our next blog, cruise lines have an absolute duty to warn its passengers of crime dangers in the ports of call where they visit. This is true whether the cruise guests are on an excursion promoted and sold by the cruise line or an independant excursion unrelated to the cruise line. Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., S.A.,475 So. 2d 248, 251 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1985), Chaparro v. Carnival, 693 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2012).

The Most Dangerous Cruise Destination in the World?

Ten years ago, we published “Ten Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World.” We chose the Bahamas as the number one most dangerous cruise destination because of armed robberies and numerous sexual assaults against cruise tourists in Nassau and Freeport. The Bahamas has been subject to a crime (level 2) advisory for years. There have been a number of crime warnings issued by the U.S Embassy of the danger of sexual assault at local beach resorts.

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Image Credit: Photos from the Carnival Elation – Dongayla Dobson Facebook via Daily Mail; victims – interview with Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer.; Carnival ElationJersyko, CC BY-SA 3.0 commons / wikimedia.

A forty-nine year old crew member, employed by Disney Cruise Line, was arrested at Port Everglades after he disembarked from a Disney cruise ship last week, according to multiple news outlets. Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a Homeland Security task force arrested crew member Alvin Gonzalez after they located a video on his cell phone which showed two children having sex, according to the arrest report.

The video, which lasted a little over eight and one-half minutes, showed a boy, believed to be as young as young as 8, and a girl, estimated to be as young as 12, having intercourse with each other.

Media accounts of the arrest did not mention the Disney Dream which is the only Disney ship calling on Port Everglades.

Disney’s sole press statement regarding this matter is that it fired the crew member.

Yes, there are sexual perverts and pedophiles employed on cruise ships. Disney Cruise Line is no exception. Read: Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on the Disney Dream?

Viewing child pornography is not the type of thing that most parents who like to cruise with Disney imagine ship employees doing. A potential danger during a cruise ship is a pedophile crew member interacting with a child in a guest cabin or in a child care facility on the ship.

The specific job position of this crew member, from the Philippines, is currently unknown. There are over 100,000 crew members who follow our Facebook page, so there is a good chance that a crew member will recognize this individual and inform us of his job position.

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Image credit: Disney DreamAjmexico from Melbourne, USA – CC BY 2.0 commons / wikimedia; Alvin Gonzalez – Broward County Sheriff’s Department via NBC-6 Miami.