Sexual Assault Royal CaribbeanSurveillance video on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas shows an attack on a 13 year old boy by two adult passengers.

The men, identified by local Miami news station NBC 4 as Martinez and Lawson, corner the teenager in the ship’s library, before pinning him against the bookcase. The boy had apparently made an inappropriate comment earlier during the cruise to to Lawson’s daughter (Martinez’s niece).

In retaliation, the men confronted the minor, with Martinez taking off his shirt and sexually assaulting the minor, according to the article titled Teen’s Assault on Cruise Ship Caught on Surveillance Camera.

The minor’s mother reportedly said about the attack on her son: “He physically punched him, choked him, smothered his face in the pillow, pulled his clothes off, was on top of my son.”

The Sun Sentinel covered the disturbing story shortly after it occurred back in January of 2016.

The family of the boy is represented by another maritime lawyer here in Miami.

Royal Caribbean said “the ship’s crew has no duty to monitor the cameras . . . ”

A criminal judge sentenced Martinez to three years in prison for lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 16, and sentenced Lawson to two years in prison sentence for child abuse.

The article mentions that in 2016-2017, 69 percent of crimes committed on board cruise ships were sexual assaults. The chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV), Ken Carver, told NBC 4 that “a third of all the rapes on cruise ships are on minors, if you can believe that.” You can read the 2013 Congressional cruise crime report with this alarming statistic here.

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Photo credit: Broward Country Sheriff’s Office via Sun Sentinel; video credit: NBC 4.

Ths week NBC News published an article titled Sex Assault Victims on Cruise Ships Are Often Under 18. Over three months, NBC News spoke with ten victims of sexual assaults and/or members of their families. The news organization found that a significant number of victims of rape and molestation on cruise ships are under 18 years of age.

NBC reported:

"Of the 92 alleged on-board crimes reported by cruise lines in 2016, 62 were sexual assaults. When sexual assaults occur at sea, it may be hard for victims to get justice on land. Some assaults were barely investigated, according to the victims and families who spoke to NBC. Most were never prosecuted.

And perhaps most troubling, many of the sexual assaults on-board cruise ships involved minors. A congressional report in 2013 found that minors were victims in a third of the assaults."

NBC interviewed me during its investigation.  We have represented 100 women and children, including families of  boys, who were sexually assaulted on cruise ships; around 35 vcitims were teenages and children with many victims under the age of ten with some as young as three years old. 

You can read more about sexual assault of children on cruise ships here

Interested in this issue? Read the recent article Sexual assault victims on cruise ships are often minors.

NBC will be airing its special on TV this weekend on the NBC Nightly News. Below is a portion of the special. 

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Today, Univision Noticias and Columbia Journalism School published the results of four months of investigation which resulted in a major multi-media presentation titled Vacations In No Man’s Seas – "The billion-dollar cruise industry operates under the laws of the tax havens where it operates, making it one of the least regulated industries in the United States."  

The project is the result of the work of an alliance of journalists and students who tracked some 411 cruise ships around the world. The introduction to the project explains that "a team of reporters, graphic artists and video journalists from Univision News was in charge of analyzing and visualizing the data from Columbia University. They complemented the reporting and personal research with input Carnival Cruise Shipsfrom industry and legislative sources, as well as lawyers, cruise ship workers and passengers, all of whom tell their stories in this interactive article."

There are five chapters published in the presentation:

Chapter 1: Cruising, A Trip Far From U.S. Law (by Ronny Rojas & Maye Primera)  – "Three U.S. companies control 80 percent of the global cruising market. Their ships carry up to 18 million passengers per year around the world, under the legal jurisdiction of the tax havens where they are officially registered."  

Chapter 2: Crimes On Board: Investigation That Sink (by Patricia Clarembaux) – "Ships are cities with no police or 911 emergency hotlines. When a crime occurs, it’s the crew members who investigate and draw up the only available statistics."

Chapter 3: Sweatshops On The High Seas (by Damia S. Bonmati) – "Cruise ship employees work over 70 hours a week, with no rest days or paid vacations. If they suffer any mishaps, they are not protected under the United States justice system."

Chapter 4: Floating Cities With Less Regulations Than a Warship (by Alejandra Vargas M.) – "It’s estimated that a cruise passenger requires about 8.4 gallons of water a day, which then must be discarded because it’s contaminated by human waste."

Chapter 5: From Cruise Industry Investigation To To Executives (by Damia S. Bonmati) -c"The cruise industry has spent over $30 million in the last decade to influence lawmakers in Washington, particularly in fiscal and environmental matters. And high-ranking FBI and Coast Guard agents frequently ended up working for the industry they started out investigating."

This is a well documented presentation from a team of professionals, in a format not unlike the Panama Papers.  

Photo Credit: By Calyponte CC BY-SA 3.0 wikimedia

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced two people from a NCL cruise ship this afternoon. 

The rescue was initiated when the Norwegian Breakaway, returning to New York from Bermuda, contacted the Coast Guard indicating that a 28 year old woman aboard the cruise ship was experiencing stomach pain. A 38 year old man was also reportedly complaining of stomach pains. 

A Coast Guard helicopter and aircraft were dispatched from Elizabeth City this morning and flew approximately 260 miles to the cruise ship to airlift the two passengers to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. They reportedly are in stable condition. 

Video credit: Defense Imagery and Video Distribution Center

 

 

The Jamaica Observer reported today that the police in Jamaica are seeking the public’s assistance in locating two cruise ship passengers who went missing yesterday.

The newspaper identified U.S. citizens, 33-year-old Hayden Gerson and 32-year-old Alisha Frank. These two Americans were passengers on a unidentified cruise ship which docked in Falmouth Jamaica. (Readers have quickly told me that only the Oasis of the Seas was in port that day).

The Observer says that the passengers left the cruise ship around 9:30 in the morning and apparently intended to "make a trip to Montego Bay, St James; they have not been seen or heard from since." 

Cruise Missing in JamaicaOver the last four years, there have been many cruise ship passengers who have gone missing, and later appeared unharmed, in Jamaica.  

In July 2012, three passengers of one family from the Carnival Freedom went missing for a short while in Jamaica after disembarking the cruise ship in Ocho Rios.

In August 2012, a fifty year old U.S. citizen disappeared for a period of time after disembarking from the Carnival Freedom in Ocho Rios. 

In January 2015, two U.S. passenger went missing after leaving the Carnival Victory in Falmouth Jamaica.

All six of the passengers eventually showed up or were located in Jamaica. They all voluntarily over-stayed their legal status. It is against both Jamaican and U.S. law to fail to return to a cruise ship in the middle of a cruise.

As I mentioned in the last article, Jamaica seems to be a favorite place for cruise passengers to "get lost" and later show up after what appears to be an extended vacation. Let’s hope that is true with the latest passengers.

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Photo credit: Carnival scans via Jamaica Observer

April 28 2016 Update: The New York Daily News, Inquisitr and the U.K.’s Daily Mail cover the story with a more ominous tone.

NBC 7 San Diego: the "missing" cruise couple in Jamaica has checked in and is fine says mother. 

May 4 2016:  The "other side of the story" from one of the "missing passengers" – Cruise Out Of Control: Part I and Cruise Out Of Control: Part II.

Holland America Line Flight Seeing TourNewspapers are reporting that 8 Holland America Line (HAL) cruise passengers were killed today when the sightseeing airplane they booked through HAL crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Seattle PI newspaper reports that the pilot of the charter plane and all eight cruise passengers died when the plane crashed about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan. The aircraft reportedly hit the granite rock face of a southeast Alaska cliff.

The Alaska Dispatch News says that the passengers were from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship. They reportedly booked an excursion through the cruise line to go sightseeing on a turboprop de Havilland Otter "floatplane" operated by Promech Air, a charter  service in Southeast Alaska.

The video below shows the weather conditions at the time of the crash.

You can see the video advertisements for the HAL "flightseeing" excursion sold by the cruise line here (June 26, 2015 update: HAL has deleted the web info for this particular excursion).

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Cruise Passengers in JamaicaNewspapers in Jamaica are reporting that two U.S. citizens from a Carnival cruise ship are unaccounted for after disembarking in Falmouth on Monday, January 12th.

The two men are identified in the Jamaica Observer as 42-year-old Shelby Person and 45-year-old Tyrone Rideout, both of Weeping Willow, Maryland.

They disembarked from the Carnival Victory shortly after its arrival in port around 10:00 a.m. The Jamaica Observer newspaper said that the men have not been seen or heard from since. Police officers conducted checks at various hospitals and the surrounding areas but they proved futile.  

There is speculation on the Jamaican Observer website about what might have happened to the men, ranging from the men might be partying out in the mountains to being victims of a crime.

There were a couple of incidents like this a couple of years ago when a passenger from the Carnival Freedom disappeared when the ship reached Ocho Rios in August 2012.  

A family of three temporarily could not be located after the Carnival Freedom ported in Ocho Rios in August 2012. They left with their luggage but were later located by police.

Please leave a comment below if you have any information or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

January 15, 2015 Update: Carnival said today: "Please note that these guests simply missed the ship but we have been in contact with them and are assisting in getting back home."

 

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer

 

WPRO radio interviewed me this morning on its news talk radio show with Gene Valicenti about the New York Times article focusing on crime in Nassau, Bahamas. 

WPRO has a large readership in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

We talked about U.S. citizens who were victims of armed robberies. We talked about tourists, including minor children, sexually assaulted by jet-ski operators on Paradise Island in Nassau.  

You can listen to the interview here (after the Jimmy Buffett into).    

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Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island – Wikipedia / D Ramey Logan Creative Commons 3.0 / WPPilot Atlantis Paradise Island

The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, has updated his Facebook page, indicating that he has traveled to Miami to meet with cruise line officials.  He posted:

"Este día ha sido muy productivo, después de una reunión con 2 empresas de Cruceros en Miami, donde definimos incrementar el número de turistas a Honduras."

Translated, he says that he had a productive day in Miami after meeting with two cruise lines in an effort to increase the number of tourists cruising to Honduras.

Roatan Honduras CruiseHe reportedly traveled with Honduran Congressman Jerry Hynds who represents the Bay Islands. Several cruise ships (Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean) cruise regularly to Honduras (Roatan).

President Hernandez is seen in the Facebook photo with Honduran and Carnival officials. 

Roatan has been in the cruise-news after a rash of violent crimes against Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise passengers this year who were attacked by armed robbers. A NCL crew member was murdered by a criminal from Coxen Hole, near Roatan’s port. Roatan is on our list of the top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations this year. You can read some of recent articles about Roatan below:

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World 

NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras

Roatan: The Irresponsibility of Travel Writers

Earlier this morning we posted an article on Facebook about a terrible maritime disaster involving a South Korean ferry carrying 462 passengers and crew members.

The ferry is the Sewol and was carrying hundreds of school children. The official count was 325 students and 14 teachers

The ferry was sailing south to the resort island of Jeju. it apparently hit something, listed and quickly sank.

There is no indication yet what caused the disaster.  

Many students on the sinking ferry sent heartbreaking text messages to their parents.

A CNN video is below:

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/04/16/wbt-salmon-south-korea-ferry-sinks-survivor.cnn