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.

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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.

Last year, following a series of hurricanes which struck the Caribbean, FEMA decided to charter the Carnival Fascination to house relief workers in St. Croix. The news was widely reported last October. Carnival cancelled its sailings of the Fascination from October 2017 through January 2018 with the cruise line planning to return the cruise ship to its regular itinerary from San Juan in February 2018.

Carnival touted the deal as demonstrating its humanitarian commitment to the Caribbean relief efforts.

Carnival told the Miami Herald last year that its “history is deeply linked to the Caribbean and our ships have been sailing within the region for more than 45 years. We are pleased to be partnering with Carnival FascinationFEMA on this charter in support of the ongoing relief efforts in the Caribbean.”

I wondered at the time, what type of sharp deal had Carnival obtained at the expense of the U.S. government? This is, after all, a corporation which was incorporated in Panama and registered its fleet of cruise ships in that country to avoid paying U.S. taxes, as well as U.S. safety and labor laws and regulations. So I made a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA) to FEMA, which recently responded with a copy of the Carnival-FEMA charter agreement for the Fascination (which you can see below).

The relevant terms are that FEMA agreed to pay Carnival $74,700,000 over the course of 4 months.

The charter agreement includes $39,700,000 (million) plus “costs” of $35,000,000 (million) for a total of $74,000,000 (million).

This is a whopping amount, even compared to the CCL-FEMA deal made back in 2005 when FEMA paid $192,000,000 to charter the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival’s Holiday for 6 months, plus $44,000,000 for fuel and other expenses, following hurricane Katrina.

FEMA was criticized for paying a total of $236,000,000 for the three Carnival ship over the course of six months, an amount which the Washington Post called an “exhorbitant price.” The Post commented that if the ships were at capacity for six months, the price per evacuee would total over twice what an average passenger would pay which “would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.”

In the current CCL-FEMA charter, FEMA agreed to pay what turns out to be $18,675,000 a month for the Fascination; whereas in 2005, it paid an average of only $13,111,111 a month for each Carnival ship.

That’s over $5,500,000 a month more than what FEMA paid back in 2005 for each of the other three Carnival ships, even though the Ecstasy and the Sensation are essentially identical to the Fascination. All are Fantasy class ships with the same number of lower berths (2,056). The Holiday, which is no longer in Carnival’s fleet, had a lower capacity of lower berths (1452).

Most states in the U.S. have anti-gouging laws following hurricanes when a state of emergency has been declared. But post-hurricane gouging appears to be business as usual for Carnival.

In 2005, following hurricane Katrina, the cruise trade organization, CLIA, requested that the U.S. Treasury Department exempt Carnival from paying income tax on the cruise ships it chartered to FEMA, even though the ships were moored in U.S. waters during the entire charter, making them clearly subject to U.S. taxes. In this case with the Fascination, the cruise ship is moored in St. Croix, which is a U.S. territory where citizens are expected to pay U.S. taxes. The monies paid to Carnival for the current charter of the Fascination also should be subject to U.S. taxes. Carnival undoubtedly will seek a similar exemption from the taxes which are owing.

After the charter, the Fascination will undergo a two-week dry dock from February 4 to 17, 2018, in Freeport, Bahamas, prior to resuming its regular seven-day cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning February 18, 2018. Carnival plans to install a Guy’s Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Red Frog Rum Bar, Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, Cherry On Top, Bonsai Sushi Express, and the Alchemy Bar during the extensive and expensive renovation.

If you decide to sail on the Fascination next month, be sure to thank the U.S. government when you enjoy a beer and burger in the new bars and restuarants on the ship which will essentially be paid for from the excessive price of the no-bid contract with the federal government, which probably will not charge Carnival any U.S. taxes either.

I reached out to Carnival for a comment but have heard nothing to date.

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Photo credit: Verybigfish86 (talk) – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival -FEMA Contract by jim walker on Scribd

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According to the Advocate.com, a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ("GLAAD") died of a "heart attack," allegedly due to drug use, while on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.  Mr. Spencer Yu, a Los Angeles attorney, died after suffering a heart attack on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship which was chartered by Atlantis Events for a seven-day trip along the Mexican Riviera.

Spencer Yu - GLAADThe cruise ship’s doctor and nurse reportedly attempted to resuscitate Mr. Yu before he was taken to a hospital in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where he was taken from life support.

The Advocate reports that Mr. Yu was a member of the GLAAD national board of directors since 2006, a vice president of business and legal affairs for Warner Bros., and a graduate of University of Texas School of Law. He served as co-chair of the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles for the past two years and was scheduled to co-host again in 2010.
 
“Spencer was tirelessly optimistic and brought a ray of sunshine to everyone at GLAAD,” said GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios. Mr. Yu’s surviving partner, Dan Neisen, asked that donations be made to GLAAD’s Spencer Yu Memorial Fund in lieu of flowers. 

There were anonymous reports of widespread drug use on the chartered cruise ship. 

Photo credit            Advocate.com