Two men reportedly trying to board the Allure of the Seas at PortMiami on Sunday were arrested by federal agents for possession of a large quantity of drugs which they were intending to sell on the cruise ship.

Local 10 News reports that a Homeland Security special agent intercepted emails from the government-issued computer of Peter Melendez, age 35, (Facebook page here), who is a government contractor at the Pentagon, and Robert Koehler, age 27, (Facebook page here), discussing their strategy to distribute the smuggled drugs to other passengers on the ship.

The local news station reported that after both men arrived at the port, a drug sniffing canine alerted its handler to their luggage which contained MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, Viagra, Adderall and GHB.

The news station stated that the men were arrested on charges of illegal drug trafficking with Melendez charged with intent to traffic MDMA.

The Chesapeake Today newspaper reports that the men were planning to cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events for its annual gay cruise to the Caribbean.

Pentagon contractor busted when boarding cruise with his bag of drugs to sell; used government computer for planning peddling pills

In 2011, a passenger, Barry Krumholz, was arrested for selling large quantities of ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, ketamine and other drugs aboard the same Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, which was involved in this latest case and had again been chartered by Atlantis Events. There were reportedly a half-dozen drug overdoses during the cruise.

A week before that Royal Caribbean/Atlantis cruise, I wrote Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World’s Largest Gay Cruise?  I questioned why Royal Caribbean tolerated the widespread use of drugs during Atlantis Events cruise parties.

In the 2011 incident, Customs and Border Protection agents searched Krumholz’s cabin and  reportedly found more than 142 ecstasy pills, nearly 3 grams of methamphetamine, a small quantity of ketamine and about $51,000 in cash.

Other Atlantis Events cruise parties have been marred by drug overdoses and deaths over the years.

Last year, Storm Chasers’ star Joel Taylor died of a suspected overdose on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, which had been chartered by Atlantis Events, according to TMZ and other websites. These tabloids reported that passengers on the Royal Caribbean ship stated that “drugs on the party boat were plentiful.”

In 2009, a passenger died after he reportedly took drugs during a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas cruise ship which had been chartered for the use of Atlantis Events.

In 2010, I wrote the article Another Death on a Royal Caribbean – Atlantis Cruise after a passenger died while aboard the Liberty of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events. There was widespread discussion regarding the use of drugs during Atlantis Events sponsored events.*

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Image Credit:Atlantis Events / Royal Caribbean Cruises

February 5, 2019 Update: NBC News covered the drug bust. Other major news media have been reluctant to identify the Allure of the Seas as the cruise ship where the men intended to sell the drugs.

*/A reader of this blog contacted me last week and pointed out that Atlantis Events changed it policies apparently based on last year’s death on the Harmony of the Seas. Its new vacation guide states that it will have medically-related personnel at its cruise party. At page 14 of its website under “Safety at Sea” it states:

“Our new Care Team is here to help! At all our parties and events you’ll find a team of dedicated medical professionals here to assist with absolutely anything. They will be wearing bright blue T-shirts with our Care Team logo and all have experience in working large festivals, sports events, and nightlife.

If you or anybody around you needs assistance or might need medical care, please simply ask them. They are here to help and will provide support in a nonjudgmental manner regardless of the situation. All matters are handled in the same ethical manner as in a land-based hospital.

Most importantly, please look after yourselves and each other. If you see somebody who over-indulged or is unwell, please let our team assist first.

Enjoy yourselves, but remember to take breaks to eat, sleep, and of course hydrate! Most people don’t realize how different being at sea is and how the combination of motion, sun, and late hours can sneak up on you. Take a night off once and a while and explore the myriad of options we have planned for you!

You are here on vacation, and we truly want you to go home feeling rested, not exhausted.”

Storm Chasers’ star Joel Taylor died of a suspected overdose on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship which had been chartered by Atlantis Events, according to TMZ and other websites.

Mr. Taylor was reportedly on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. These tabloids report that passengers on the Royal Caribbean ship stated that “drugs on the party boat were plentiful.”

Law enforcement allegedly told TMZ that “it appears the death could be an overdose and Joel Taylor was consuming controlled substances.”

“Joel had consumed enough GHB on the dance floor Tuesday that he was rendered unconscious andAtlantis Cruises - Haromy of the Seas taken off the dance floor by 2 people and back to his room.”

According to the New York Daily News, “passengers aboard the Harmony of the Seas added that they witnessed Taylor taking drugs, including ecstasy and cocaine.”

This is not the first time that a passenger died allegedly due to drugs aboard a cruise ship chartered by Atlantis Events, which advertises its “unbelievable parties” on cruises with Royal Caribbean.

In 2009, a passenger died after he reportedly took drugs during a cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship which had been chartered for the use of Atlantis Events.

In 2010, I wrote the article Another Death on a Royal Caribbean – Atlantis Cruise after a passenger died while aboard the Liberty of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events. There was widespread discussion regarding the use of drugs during Atlantis sponsored events.

In 2011, a passenger was arrested for selling large quantities of ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, ketamine and other drugs aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas which had been chartered by Atlantis Events. There were reportedly a half-dozen drug overdoses during the cruise.

A week before that Royal Caribbean/Atlantis cruise, I wrote Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World’s Largest Gay Cruise?  I questioned why Royal Caribbean tolerated the widespread use of drugs during Atlantis Events. I also stated that cruise ships are not the place to have a medical emergency, whether you are gay, lesbian, transgendered, or straight. Cruise ships are often characterized by the questionable experience and training of the shipboard doctors and staff and the limited nature of the cruise ship’s medical facilities.

The Harmony of the Seas was on a seven day cruise which left Fort Lauderdale on January 20th, sailing to Labadee (Haiti), San Juan (Puerto Rico), and St. Maarten, and then returning to Fort Lauderdale on January 27th. Law enforcement reportedly boarded the cruise ship when it docked in San Juan yesterday.

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

February 8, 2018 Update: Quartz A Reality Star’s Death Has Exposed a Dangerous Drug Culture on Party Cruises.

Photo credit: Atlantis Events via Mike Sington twitter page.

 A jet ski operator in Nassau, Bahamas sexually assaulted a Canadian woman near Paradise Island yesterday afternoon, according to the Nassau Tribune.

The crime reportedly occurred after 1.30 P.M. on a cay near Cabbage Beach. The newspaper indicates that a jet ski operator took the young woman (in her twenties) on a ride from Cabbage Beach to a cay off Paradise Island where he sexually assaulted her.

An employee of the Atlantis resort told the newspaper that he observed the woman, shortly after the incident, crying and shaking on the beach. She indicated that the jet ski operator took her to a nearby cay Cruise Port Nassau Bahamaswhere he raped her. The news account says that the other jet ski operators"… don’t like him because he has a bad reputation. He has been accused before of groping a woman on the beach."

Over a half-dozen women have reported being assaulted by jet ski operators on Cabbage Beach in Nassau, Bahamas. The U.S. Embassy has warned of this specific danger several times. A year ago we wrote that, according to the U.S. Embassy, jet ski operators sexually assaulted five tourists in just 18 months

Bahamian officials previously discussed using police and Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers to patrol the beaches on Paradise Island to address the crime problem, but such plans never materialized.

Many passengers cruise to Nassau under the illusion that it is a tropical paradise. But the truth is that Nassau has been the subject of more critical crime warning that any other cruise destination in the world. The Bahamas has a far higher rate of rape and murder than any U.S. port where passengers embarked for a cruise. The cruise lines don’t issue warnings before selling cruises to Nassau but typically warn their guests of the high crime rate there only during the cruise.

The Nassau Tribune has written about the rape of tourists by jet ski operators before.

The National Task Force for Gender Based Violence, Bahamas had the worst record for rapes in the Caribbean. The report stated that "while the worldwide average for rape is 15 per 100,000, The Bahamas has an average of 133 (per 100,000)." The rate in the U.S. Is somewhere around 28.6 per 100,000. There are almost 5 times as many rapes in the Bahamas as in the U.S. per capita rate.

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

June 15, 2017 Update: It seems that history is repeating itself

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

The AP reports that the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas yesterday has singled out operators of jet skis following the latest sexual assault of a U.S. citizen by a man on a jet ski on Cabbage Beach. We reported that the police in Nassau arrested a Bahamian on January 2nd following the rape.

According to the AP account, the embassy reported there had been five sexual assaults of U.S. citizens by jet-ski operators in Nassau since July. The actual warning refers to July of 2014.  In addition, the embassy "banned its staff from using jet-ski rental companies because of insufficient regulation. It recommended U.S. citizens not use them either."  The recommended ban applies to Cabbage Beach and Miami Cruise Ship Crime - NassauCable Beach.

You can read the warning from the embassy here.

In 2014, the New York Times published an article about the high crime rate in Nassau, in general, and watercraft operators there in particular after the embassy issued a similar crime warning last year. The Times interviewed me in the article, after jet ski operators sexually assaulted at least three American tourists. The embassy warned of "increasingly brazen" crimes sweeping the Bahamas. 

The article said that the prime minister convened a special national security meeting last year after allegedly devising "several crime-fighting strategies." The Bahamas never disclosed these so-called new strategies to the public. The long-standing problem with rogues associated with jet ski operators assaulting tourists seems to have continued until today. Many in the Bahamas are critical of Prime Minister Cristie who has repeatedly told the press throughout the year that his government would roll out new policies to counteract the rise in crime but such plans never materialized. 

The Tribune news paper in Nassau said yesterday that the Bahamian arrested for the alleged rape was was not a water sports operator but “just a man with a Jet Ski and a boat hanging on the beach."

The newspaper also said that Bahamian officials are discussing using police and Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers to assist her ministry in patrolling the beaches to address the problem. 

One person commenting on the article said: "This is just what our tourists come here to see, machine gun toting cops and marines on the beach fraternizing with the jet-ski operators. What a scene of tropical paradise."

The recent warning from the U.S. Embassy is one of over ten crime warnings from various government agencies about Nassau in a little over two years.

Many cruise ship passengers still don’t know that when they get on a ship here in Miami heading for the Bahamas, they are heading to a country with a national crime rate many times higher than the U.S. rate. The cruise lines don’t issue warnings before selling cruises to Nassau but typically warm their guests of the high crime rate there during the cruise.

Paradise Beach Nassau BahamasThe Bahamian newspapers are reporting that an U.S. woman visiting Nassau over the weekend was raped by a jet ski operator on Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island around 5 P.M. on Saturday, January 2nd.

The Tribune newspaper, in an article titled Man Held After Rape Attack On US Tourist, talks about the rape. The Nassau Guardian mentions that there have been other sexual assaults allegedly committed by jet ski operators in Nassau, generally, and Cabbage Beach in particular, which have been the subject of international crime warnings.  

We reported on a prior sexual assault of a tourist reported to have occurred by a jet ski operator in Nassau on Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island less than 30 days ago.    

The U.S. Embassy previously warned about sexual assaults by jet ski operators in Nassau before.

This type of crime has been repeatedly highlighted in the last two years but is only one of many crimes which the U.S. State Department has warned are occurring to tourists who visit Nassau.

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce was quoted in the Tribune last year:

“The Chamber remains very concerned about the levels of crime, especially the types of crime that have been reported recently, and that has to do mostly with regards to crime against the person.

We have heard increasing reports of sexual harassment of tourists. We have even heard of some cases of alleged rapes, and we are extremely concerned about the safety not only of the tourists who are coming here and naturally provide us with great stimulus to our economy through their tourism dollars, but we are equally concerned for the health and safety of Bahamians and other residents.

A new US warning about crime in the Bahamas has expressed concern over home invasions and a recent spike in reported sexual assaults, some of which it says are linked to the “loosely regulated water sports industry” on Paradise Island."

We just wrote about the out-of-control crime problem in Nassau in More Per Capita Murder than Detroit: Nassau Continues with Mayhem in 2016.

The Tribune just published ‘Mind Blowing’ Crime Concern For Tourism.

Photo Credit: "Nassau, The Bahamas" by NASA Astronauts licensed under Public Domain via Commons – Wikipedia

The owners of the Atlantis mega-resort in Nassau are worried about the U.S. report on the high rate of crime there, according to the Nassau Guardian

The U.S. report from Department of State states that armed robbery and sexual assault are all on the increase in Nassau and these crimes are affecting tourists and cruise passengers, including around the hotels, resorts and casinos. 

Over the years, Atlantis has experienced significant problems with crime. Tourists have been robbed at Atlantis Resort Bahamasgunpoint and the resort’s own employees have attempted to rob the casino. You can read about the crime here:

Official: Security foils robbery at Bahamas resort

Tourists robbed outside Atlantis

Last September, the Nassau Tribune reported that Atlantis was “very concerned” about a crime warning issued to cruise passengers by Carnival cruise line.  Atlantis seemed afraid that the cruise line might scare off the resort’s potential customers by warning its passengers of the crime problems ashore before the passengers disembark.

You can read our article: Atlantis Discourages Carnival from Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau.

Nassau needs to get a grip on crime and its effect on tourists and cruise passengers.

Atlantis has to reassure its lenders that the situation is under control as it tries to refinances its debt. But the cat is out of the bag. Few rational people can dispute that the island has a problem. The cruise lines are seeing fewer and fewer people actually get off the cruise ships.  

It’s a house built of cards. They could all fall down. Atlantis, the cruise lines, and the Bahamas tourism people are all hoping, and praying, that a tourist doesn’t get shot. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / WPPilot

 

A dispute has erupted in Nassau whether cruise passengers who disembark in the Bahamas should be warned of the risk of violent and often deadly crime. 

In response to the widespread violent crimes and high homicide rate in the Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line finally began warning its passengers of the crime problems ashore before the passengers disembark. The warning comes in the form of a letter which Carnival provides to its passengers before they arrive at port in Nassau.

Carnival’s warning includes telling the thousands of passengers Atlantis Nassau Bahamas - Carnival Cruise - Crimeon each ship not to carry large sums of cash when disembarking in Nassau.

Tribune 242 reports that the Atlantis Resort in Nassau (which can accommodate some 4,000 cruise passengers a day) is “very concerned” about the crime warning sent by Carnival. Simply put, it seems like Atlantis is afraid that the cruise line will scare off the resort’s potential customers.

The newspaper reports that local merchants in port including those along Bay Street, in addition to the Atlantis mega-resort on Paradise Island, have expressed concerns over the effect of Carnival’s warning on their business.  

David Johnson, the Ministry of Tourism’s director-general, told the newspaper that the Bahamas was trying to respond to the anger expressed by Bahamian merchants over the impact on their businesses by Carnival’s warning letter. Mr. Johnson said that the letter was being left by Carnival employees in cruise passenger cabins. Johnson was quoted saying:

“Every passenger receiving a note like that, even before they arrive at the destination, that’s not what we would wish to see. We want to optimize the tourism dollars businesses are getting, so we’re very concerned about that." 

Johnson also said that it sent a "negative message about Nassau to potential visitors before they even set foot in the city." 

“We’re disappointed that the cruise lines may be discouraging passengers from venturing off the ship,” the Atlantis executive George Markantonis told the newspaper. 

My take? How irresponsible on Atlantis’ behalf.

Atlantis has experienced significant problems with tourists robbed at gunpoint or its own employees attempting robbery, as you can see here and here.

Cruise lines like Carnival have a legal responsibility to warn cruise passengers of the risk of crime which it knows or should know about ashore in its ports of call. Crime in Nassau is well known to the cruise lines but not generally known by passengers.  Read our recent articles here and here. Crime in Nassau has been a major problem ever since I started this blog: Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Carnival is finally doing the right thing by warning its passengers of the crime in Nassau. Atlantis, on the other hand, seems driven only by the Almighty Dollar.  

September 10 2013 Update:  Read the U.S. State Department’s warning about Bahamas. 

 

Photo Credit: Atlantis – Carnival Cruise Line

Dominica Senior Magistrate BaptisteIn a weird ending to a weird cruise story, two California men who were arrested on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship while it was docked in Dominica pleaded guilty to indecent exposure at a hearing yesterday and were then ridiculed by a local magistrate.

Yesterday we mentioned the bizarre circumstances surround the Atlantis Events cruise: Busted for Buggery: Controversy Surrounds Another Atlantis Gay Cruise.  

A newspaper in Dominica "DaVibes" described the incident as follows:

"Local taxi operators expressed outrage as they reportedly witnessed the defendants engaged in sexual activity on the balcony of the ship."  When the local police boarded the Celebrity cruise ship, one of the passengers responded “we were naked on our balcony but were not having sex.”

Today another newspaper in Dominica reports that the two men’s lawyer in Dominica told the local magistrate at a 30 minute hearing yesterday that her clients were "remorseful" and  overcome by the beauty of the island:

"They were struck by the beautiful mountains, clear fresh air and had a few cocktails and having a few cocktails they found themselves in this indiscretion. They threw caution to the wind, they came here to have a good time and they did not mean to offend anyone” she told the court.

According to the newspaper, Chief Magistrate Baptiste (photo above left) denounced the men’s  actions Dominica -Cruise Ship Passengers Arrestedas “an outrage” that was “morally wrong” in any country.  She described the men as “rogues and vagabonds.”  She fined them around $900. 

After the hearing, the local police drove the two men (photo right) to the airport to be flown out of the country.

Many Caribbean islands like Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados are openly hostile to gay travelers. Nonetheless, sex on a balcony at port seems like a good way to be arrested.  

However, the two men, Dennis Mayer and John Hart who have been partners for 17 years, deny that they were engaged in sex on the balcony.

They state that they were arrested by military police and placed in a small cell for 19 hours. They told the LA Times that "we were taunted all night long. They paraded us around like we were some oddity." They were led to a ATM at a bank to withdraw money for their fine as a crowd of residents watched. "I’ve never seen something like this," Mayer said. "I’ve never seen people chanting and protesting in the street. It was amazing."  

An AP article quotes Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas as saying that tourists should abide by local laws regardless of their religious or sexual orientation, and that cruise ship officials should make passengers aware of these laws.

 

Photo credits:  

Magistrate Baptiste – Dominica News Online 

Cruise passenger – Carlisle Jno-Baptiste / AP 

Another Atlantis gay cruise resulted in public controversy yesterday when police in Dominica arrested two passengers on the Celebrity Summit on suspicion of indecent exposure and “buggery” (sodomy).

Someone on the dock supposedly observed the passengers having sex on the cruise ship. The two arrested passengers were men in their 40’s from California. Newspaper accounts suggest that if convicted, each one could be fined and face jail time up to 6 months.

The Celebrity cruise ship has been chartered by Atlantis Events, which specializes in gay travel.

Atlantis Events - Gay Cruise - Celebrity SilhouetteFive Atlantis cruise with Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises have been plagued by arrests or deaths.

Last month, a young man went overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas cruise ship off of the coast of Mexico during an Atlantis cruise.

One year ago, a passenger, Steven Barry Krumholz, was busted for selling a large amount of drugs during a gay cruise on the Allure of the Seas.  

Two years ago, a young man died during a Royal Caribbean – Atlantis cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas while it was in the Caymans.

Three years ago, a GLAAD board member died of an apparent drug overdose on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas

This latest incident takes the controversial history of the Royal Caribbean – Atlantis relationship into the realm of the absurd.  With as many sexual assaults of women which occur on Royal Caribbean / Celebrity ships with no arrests or prosecutions during straight cruises, it is bizarre to think of passengers being arrested for engaging in consensual sex like this.  

 

Photo credit:  Alamy via Mail OnLine

A blogger of international news at the Examiner, Edward Owens, published an interesting article today regarding the disappearance of a passenger from Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas cruise ship.  

You will recall that last week, Irish cruise passenger Kenneth John Gemmell went overboard from the balcony of his cabin on the eleventh deck of the Allure cruise ship.  The initial reports stated that he "fell," although the cruise line was quick to issue a statement that a review of the ship’s closed circuit television cameras eventually indicated that the passenger "intentionally" went over the railing.

We reported on the incident on February 3rd and have been updating the story since then.

Did Royal Caribbean Send A Crewmember Home After The Incident?

Kenneth John Gemmell - Allure of the Seas - MissingMr. Owen’s article contains a new twist, perhaps, to the incident.   Mr. Gemmell may have argued with a Royal Caribbean crewmember at some point before he went overboard.  The crewmember then allegedly left the vessel in Cozumel.  Mr. Owens writes:    

The family says that some information has already come their way. One party told them that Kenneth may have been arguing with a ship’s crew member (perhaps a bartender) in one of the bars late Thursday night or early Friday morning. They were also told that the crew member, a man they understood was sharing a room with a Canadian citizen, left the ship in Cozumel. 

Is this gossip or accurate information?  If this is true, then the crewmember would have been removed from the cruise ship before the law enforcement authorities or representative of the flag state (Bahamas) boarded the cruise ship when it returned to port in Fort Lauderdale two days later.   If you know anything about this, please leave a comment below and contact the family.

Family Seeks Information

Mr. Gemmell’s family is seeking answers to the circumstances surrounding their son’s death.  The article states that they are issuing an appeal to anyone on board the ship who might have met their son during the cruise.  They especially wish to hear from the passenger who witnessed him going overboard. 

Anyone who has information about this tragedy is asked to email the family spokesperson at the following email address: michael@mhynes.com 

 

Story credit:  Examiner

Photo credit:  Kenneth John Gemmell – Anglo Celt newspaper