Several passengers aboard the Royal Princess cruise ship have informed Cruise Law News that a passenger fell from an upper deck and struck a lifeboat last night.

One passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated:

“A women on royal princess princess cruise line was pushed or fell from the lido 15th or 16th deck onto the top of  life boat #2 at 4 am in the morning. She died instantly. Once the ship arrived into Aruba, authorities boarded the ship. Outcome of investigation is unknown. Passengers said the scene was gruesome.”

Passenger were first alerted to the incident when they heard an announcement around 4:30 a.m. for the security team to respond to deck 7 underneath lifeboat number 2. When the cruise ship arrived at port in Aruba, the captain made an announcement that the crime scene investigators were coming on board and no one would be allowed to get off until they cleared the ship.

Mas Noticia refers to the incident as a “possible murder.”

Last July (of 2017), the FBI arrested the husband of a  a 39-year-old woman who was murdered aboard the Emerald Princess operated by Princess Cruises in Alaska. Earlier this year, the boyfriend of a 50 year-old woman was arrested for murder aboard the Carnival Elation after he threw her off their balcony to a lifeboat below. Last month a passenger was arrested after he tried to throw his partner off of the Radiance of the Seas in Australia.

Is a cruise ship a perfect place to commit a crime?

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Update: Diario.aw reports that a “muscular” man was struggling/fighting with the woman, and suddenly began choking her. After that, he reportedly pushed her over the railing. She fell on lifeboat #2, destroying the windows on the lifeboat as well. The authorities in Aruba will perform an autopsy, to determine whether the man killed her first (by choking her) or she died because of the fall.

November 15, 2018 Update: Local 10 News (Miami): “FBI investigating after woman dies aboard cruise ship en route to Aruba.” Finally, the U.S. press cover this disturbing, apparent rime.

November 16, 2018 Update: Numerous newspapers are now reporting on the apparent murder, including the U.K.’s Mail Online (photo above right).

Photo credit: Barry Skeates – via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A passenger reportedly died following a fall aboard the Grand Classica cruise ship operated by the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line according to several sources.

WPTV in West Palm Beach reports that the Grand Classica contacted the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday evening when an unidentified passenger fell and was injured on the cruise ship after it left the Port of Palm Beach heading toward Freeport.

The Coast Guard medevaced the passenger from the cruise ship to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where hospital staff pronounced him dead.

The news stations report that another passenger on the ship stated that the the man fell to his death, but the cruise line has not confirmed that account.

A passenger on the cruise commented on Facebook, “I heard code blue I ran to the staircase where everyone was huddled … I saw a pool
of blood … they were wiping the blood like nothing.”

After the medevac, the cruise ship then resumed sailing to Grand Bahama Island.

U.S. News & World Report reports that a Coast Guard spokesman, John Lally, stated that the passenger fell while on the Grand Classica.

Spokesman Lally stated that a Coast Guard crew met met the ship about 13 miles east of the Port of Palm Beach and brought the man back to shore.

October 13, 2018 Update: The Palm Beach Post and People Magazine identified the man as Christopher McGrory, age 29, who was celebrating his bachelor party with friends on the cruise ship at the time of the incident.

Screen Grab: WPTV

Two cruise passengers were involved in a zip lining accident during a stop in Roatan, Honduras on July 5, 2018.

La Prensa newspaper in Honduras reports that a couple who arrived in Roatan on a cruise ship last Thursday collided with one another while on a zip line.

The newspaper in Honduras identified the passengers as Egael Fishman and Shif Fanken, reportedly both citizens of Israel. Mr. Fishman was killed and Ms. Fanken was seriously injured during the accident.

Radio America Honduras first tweeted about the accident on July 5, 2018 and published photographs Zip Line Accident Rotan(right) of Mr. Fishman and Ms. Fanken being taken from the scene of the accident. Ms Fanken was reportedly taken to the Wood Medical Center in Coxen Hole, and was subsequently flown via air ambulance back to the U.S.  A newspaper in Israel states that Mr. Fishman died from his injuries.

The cruise ships in Roatan on July 5, 2018 included Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Carnival’s Carnival Miracle and Carnival Dream. There may have been other cruise ships there.

10 years ago, a 44 year-old woman from NCL’s Norwegian Spirit died when a faulty cable snapped while she was zip-lining in Roatan, causing her to fall 65 feet.

Nearly three years ago, a woman from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship visiting Roatan was seriously injured during a zip line excursion which was advertised and marketed by the cruise line on its website.

BTNews states that the couple was recently married and took a cruise for their honeymoon.

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July 8, 2018 Update:  We have learned that the guests were from Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The zip lining excursion was sold by the cruise line as the “Extreme Caribe Zip Line Tour” (RCCL code RT86). Royal Caribbean represents in its shore excursion guide that “we have carefully selected the finest excursion at each port” to deliver the “highest-quality, handpicked tours” with the “top tour operators.”

At the time of the accident, it reportedly was raining very hard and the excursion employees were not equipped with walkie-talkies in order to communicate.

July 9, 2018 Update: Blame the victims? According to the Washington Post, the tourism people in Honduras take a shot a the honeymoon couple: “the Honduran Institute of Tourism told Radio America it regretted the accident, saying it was due to ‘poor operation’ on behalf of the couple. The institute’s director, Emilio Silvestri, told Radio America that the company in charge of the zip line took all appropriate security measures.”

Photograph credit: La Prensa via Radio America Honduras

Carnival Vista Several passenger who disembarked from the Carnival Vista today stated that there was a suspicious death on the cruise ship near the end of the eight day cruise leaving from and returning to Miami.

One of the passengers stated that yesterday (Saturday) there was an announcement over the ship’s intercom where a passenger’s name (which I will keep anonymous) was repeatedly paged to report to guest services. The ship was approximately 20 miles from Cuba at the time. 

"I just debarked from Carnival Vista. There was a death on the 6th floor and they kept someone inside their cabin with security not allowing them to leave the room . . . There was a man with a black jacket that said “Security” sitting outside of the door with a walkie talkie and a clip board with a pen."   

The passenger sent me a number of photos and videos which she took of the of the cabin door sealed with a sign which stated: "DO NOT ENTER This is a secured area and can only be entered with authorization by the Captain or Staff Captain"

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Photo credit: Passenger Carnival Vista passenger (anonymous) 

Adriana Morales de FlorencioThe killer of Royal Caribbean crew member Adriana Morales de Florencia was sentenced to prison for her murder. There is a conflict in the reporting whether the sentence was for 22 years or 17 years. 

In April of 2017, Ms. Morales was reported missing on the island of Bonaire after disembarking for Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, as we reported last year.  She was from Mexico and had worked for Royal Caribbean for less than two contracts. She did not return to the cruise ship after going ashore in the port of Kralendijk last year. Her body was found buried and it was established that she died by stab wounds. A suspect was later identified by a surveillance film. 

Newspaper accounts in Bonaire identified a man who met Ms. Morales shortly after she left the cruise ship. He has been identified only through an acronym; some accounts refer to him as "Raysley S." According to newspapers in Bonaire, the prosecutor presented aggravating circumstances during the sentencing. The computer data  showed that in the days before and after the killing, he looked at extremely violent pornographic films and photographs.

Another article posted this week indicated that the judge sentenced the defendant to just 17 years in jail.

Photo credit: De Telegraaf

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.

Carnival Elation DeathEarlier this afternoon, a guest traveling aboard a Carnival ship died after falling from the balcony of her cabin, according to a passenger aboard the cruise ship.

The woman reportedly died after she fell from her balcony on the 14th deck down to the 11th deck on the Carnival Elation cruise ship.

The death was confirmed by Carnival who said that "a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below," according to New4Jax.

The Carnival Elation departed yesterday from Jacksonville on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

A passenger sent me photographs which he took on the cruise ship, including of an area on deck 11 which had been roped off. The passenger commented that the woman was apparently celebrating her birthday. Another passenger reportedly was seen handcuffed after the incident. Police from Freeport, Bahamas reportedly boarded the ship after the fatality. 

You can see additional photos from the cruise ship here.

In October of last year, a 8 year-old girl died after falling from a deck in an interior atrium to a lower deck on the Carnival Glory.

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January 22, 2018 Update: The Daily Mail referenced this article. 

Congress introduced legislation on Wednesday which will strengthen the rights of cruise passengers to seek compensation when cruise lines negligently cause the death of their loved ones on the high seas.

As matters now stand, the statute which governs deaths in international waters, the Death on the High Seas Act ("DOSHA"), bars the recovery of emotional damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, when a passenger dies outside of state territorial waters. This means that when a non-wage earner, such as a retiree or a child, dies due to a cruise line’s negligence, their surviving family members can recover only very limited compensation, usually only burial and funeral expenses.

Proposed improvements to the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, if enacted, would permit the families of Miami Cruise Linespassengers who die on ships in international waters as a result of the negligence of a cruise line to seek "non-pecuniary" compensation, as permitted by most states, such as damages for grief and bereavement. 

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Congressman Ted Poe and Congressman Jim Himes sponsored the legislation in the House of Representatives, while Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Edward Markey sponsored similar legislation in the Senate. You can read a press statement by Congresswoman Matsui here and the statement of  Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Himes here.

Congress originally enacted DOSHA back in 1920 when few state wrongful deaths statutes permitted family members to recover damages for the emotional suffering experienced by family members who lose a loved one. Since then, the majority os states have substantially improved their statutes to permit the full recovery of emotional damages. In 2000, Congress amended DOHSA to permit damages in commercial aviation accidents which occur in international waters. DOSHA used to bar emotional damages in such cases.

At the moment, DOHSA remains the same in maritime cases as when it was enacted 97 years ago. The proposed amendments to DOSHA will ensure that families of victims at sea are provided with the same rights as airline passengers.and are finally able to pursue fair compensation. 

Kelly Hammer Lankford and Jill Hammer Malott, the daughters of Larry and Christy Hammer, who perished during a deadly river cruise fire last year, are part of the efforts to amend DOSHA. Their parents died aboard the Estrella Amazonica, operated by International Expeditions of Alabama, on the Amazon River in Peru. International Expeditions is trying to dodge accountability by using DOSHA as a liability shield. (International Expeditions subsequently renamed the ill-fated La Estrella Amazonica as the Amazon Star). The daughters commented on the proposed legislation, saying:

“We are thrilled that our legislators are trying to do what the cruise companies have not: Protect passengers. Through legislative reform, American travelers would finally be able to hold cruise companies accountable when tragedy strikes, stopping these companies from hiding behind an antiquated law to avoid responsibility for their actions.”

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

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Photo Credit: Jim Walker

April 28, 2017 Update: The Miami New Times covered the story in Congress Introduces New Cruise Ship Safety Regulations.

The body of a 74 year-old passenger who disappeared from the M/V Sharden, which can carry up to 2,908 passengers, has been located in the ship’s ventilation shaft, according to AOL Travel’s article Pensioner’s Body Found in Cruise Ship Ventilation Shaft After Two Months.  

The woman sailed on holiday with her husband on the Tirrenia Sharden, which is technically a ferry (Ro-Ro) which carries cars in addition to passengers. The couple were from Munich, Germany and had vacationed in Sardinia, Italy. At the end of October, the couple took the ferry from Porto Torres in Sardinia back to Genoa on the Italian mainland.

The husband stated that "we rested in sleeping-chairs. When I woke up later, my wife had Sharden Ferry disappeared." The captain ordered the entire ship searched but the passengers could not be located, leading to speculation that she might have gone overboard or been the victim of a crime. The husband admitted that his wife sometimes became disorientated and could have wandered into the engine room and toppled into the ventilation shaft, but he criticized the crew for not carrying out a proper search of the ship.

There is no explanation regarding the extent of the crew’s search of the ship.

An admittedly bizarre occurrence, this is not the first time this has happened. Four years ago, a 47-year-old Indonesian mechanic on the Costa Serena died after falling into a ventilation duct of one of the ship’s engines, apparently while working on the maintenance of fan grids.

Photo credit: Cen via Mail Online

Island Princess Several crew members and other people have informed me that the FBI is investigating the death of a Princess Cruises crew member yesterday.  

The cruise ship was in Colon, after cruising in the Panama Canal, when a crew member was discovered dead in his cabin. Some people are saying that it is an apparent suicide but others are stressing that the FBI has not disclosed an official cause of death. 

He was a young, newly hired galley employee on his first contract. We are not disclosing the crew member’s name nor the alleged mechanism of his death at this time. 

The cruise ship apparently had to cancel the next port of call in Limon, Costa Rica.

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, CC BY 3.0, creative commons / wikimedia.

March 19, 2016 @1:56 P.M. Update:  Princess released the following statement: 

Island Princess Statement
March 10, 2016

"We are saddened to confirm a crew member aboard Island Princess took his own life while the ship was in Colon, Panama yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the crew member and also with our crew members working aboard Island Princess.

Local authorities were immediately contacted and we facilitated full support in the endeavor to investigate the incident. Island Princess was required to stay in Panama overnight so that authorities could conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The ship has completed departure formalities and received clearance from local authorities to sail.

As a result, we have been required to cancel our scheduled call to Limon and sail directly to Grand Cayman, where the ship will arrive as scheduled at 7:00 AM on Saturday, March 12.

Island Princess departed Ft. Lauderdale on March 4 for a 10-day Panama Canal cruise, scheduled to return on March 14." 

August 2, 2016 Update: A newspaper in Mexico raises the question whether the 21 year-old crew member Eduardo Smith was murdered.