Going to Jail Before, During or After a Cruise

It may come as a surprise to know that there is a brig on most ships and jail cells in the cruise terminals.
In fact, some terminals have multiple cells and holding facilities along with places to question passengers about suspicious items in their luggage. All luggage is scanned, so don’t expect to get guns or fuzzy handcuffs onto the ship. I would love to be a fly on the wall when the the owners of these items are notified of the discovery of forbidden items in their luggage. The reaction of a passenger to the discovery of a forbidden item with a kinky twist would be even more interesting to watch.

Speaking of watching, you are being watched in the terminal and on the ship. In fact, at one terminal, the only area not surveyed by cameras is the strip search room. Likely this is true of most terminals, however we didn’t check it out. TSA and Customs and Immigration all have strong security measures in place and ways to deal with those who pose a threat.

Now, do you know that your ID’s and Passport give a lot of information about you and they are hooked up to several systems for tracking you? Of course, you do, but some stupid criminals don’t. The ship has a manifest of all passengers, which is scrutinized by law enforcement agencies. One story that grabbed our attention was that of a ship that was requested by the authorities to turn around and bring back a murder suspect who had a warrant for his arrest. The ship could not easily return to the port, so the captain requested that law enforcement come out to the ship. They boarded and asked the purser for the stateroom number of the suspect. She offered to bring the suspect to them. They waited at the purser’s desk and she announced five names informing those people that they had won a cruise.

Four of the names were fictitious, so only the suspect showed up to claim his free cruise. He supposedly realized that he would be cruising to a very secure destination when he saw the guys in suits with bulging jackets and the sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officers. This ship was heading to a foreign port and officials felt that the suspect would run once he got to his first foreign port of call. He was traveling with several family members on this voyage. It’s unlikely that the family didn’t know, but whether they knew or not that this guy was a suspect, they should have known how easy it is to run a passport or driver’s license through the system and find out little things like arrest warrants.

Not everybody with an arrest warrant is removed from a ship. Some with infractions like excessive parking tickets or child support issues may be notified, but simply given a warning rather than extradited to wherever their warrant originated.

Bad behavior on the cruise ship can also result in confinement. We heard another story of a large group of people cruising during spring break. Their unlawful behavior confined them to certain areas of the ship(there were more than 20 people involved in this incident.) They were greeted by the kind of welcoming committee that you would rather not be welcomed by when you disembark. They went from their ship confinement to the cells in the terminal until they could be dealt with.

Bringing contraband back home is another reason that a passenger might find himself in jail or met by authorities at the end of a cruise. You have heard about the drug sniffing dogs, haven’t you? Please don’t do anything to tempt fate. Don’t buy illegal drugs in the ports and expect that you will get through seamlessly. Big Brother really is watching you.

For a list of forbidden items, please check the Cruise Line Industry Association site and the TSA site. Check your port website for additional information that applies to cruising. Some things that are allowed in your checked in luggage on planes, i.e. firearms, are not permitted onboard the ship.

Next Time: Adding Fuel to the Fire

Sail Away

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