23 passengers removed from cruise ship in Australia after massive brawls
Ralph Ellis, CNN
(CNN) — Authorities have removed 23 passengers from a Carnival Cruise Line ship in Australia after a series of brawls, New South Wales police and Carnival said in statements.
Cellphone video from the ship shows passengers tussling with each other, and with security officers, outside a nightclub and by a swimming pool amid shouting and screams from alarmed onlookers.
The video also shows security officers kicking passengers after they were down on the floor.
Carnival said police on Friday removed “a large family group who had been involved in disruptive acts aboard Carnival Legend. Our security team responded in several instances to extremely unruly behavior by these guests.”
“One particular altercation in the nightclub began when the group physically attacked other guests. The actions seen on the video by our security team are not in line with our Carnival values and policies.”
Police said they were told several men fought in the early morning hours Friday while the ship was about 220 kilometers (137 miles) off Jervis Bay. Security officers on the ship intervened and detained the men before notifying police, police said.
“About 1.30 p.m. (Friday), six men and three teenage boys were removed from the ship at Twofold Bay, Eden,” the police statement said. “A further 14 passengers, including women and children, also left the ship. The group were transported to Canberra where other travel arrangements were made.”
Carnival and police did not say what started the fights, how many people were hurt and whether any charges were filed. Both the police and the cruise line are conducting investigations.
Passenger Kellie Peterson told radio station 3AW she saw a lot of injuries.
“There’s people been walking around with cut heads and hands and bandages everywhere,” she told the station.
“They were looking for trouble from the minute they got on the ship,” Peterson said, noting that she and her husband tried to move her three children out of the swimming pool when the group was around.
“Five of them surrounded my husband,” she said. “And unfortunately my children witnessed it and they’re scared. We’ve been told to watch our backs by this group. We’re scared to go anywhere on the ship.”
The remaining passengers disembarked Saturday in Melbourne after a 10-day cruise in the South Pacific, Carnival said. CNN affiliate Seven Network said the ship carried 2,100 passengers.
One passenger, Cindy Buglisi, told Seven Network the situation was “horrifying, like people screaming, running around, throwing glasses, everything — like nightmare.”
Another, Jarrah Boliltho, said, “They (members of the family group) were roaming the decks just looking to pick on any Aussie they could find.”
Some of the passengers told Seven Network they wanted full refunds from the cruise line.
Carnival said it would offer a 25% discount to these passengers on future cruises as a goodwill gesture.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to excessive behavior that affects other guests,” the Carnival statement said. “We sincerely regret that the unruly conduct and actions of the passengers removed from the ship may have prevented other guests from fully enjoying their cruise.”