32-year-old Monika Markiewicz, a Polish national who was a musician aboard Allure of the Seas, left the ship Friday in Cozumel to head to the beach and never returned. According to a Canadian Press report, Markiewicz' body was recovered off Cozumel's south coast on Saturday.
A statement issued by Royal Caribbean said:"Tragically, we recently became aware that the crew member was a victim of a violent crime while ashore in a remote area in Cozumel." An autopsy revealed that the cause of Markiewicz' death was drowning -- but that she'd also had a blunt trauma to the head. Police are investigating.
Royal Caribbean has no intention at this point of canceling calls to Cozumel. In the statement, it elaborated on its efforts to help solve the crime: "We are working closely with law enforcement on their investigation, and will provide any assistance we can to catch and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. We are also working with government officials in Cozumel to ensure that all of our crew and guests remain safe while ashore. The safety and security of our guests and crew members is always foremost in our minds."
While Mexico's west coast ports of call have suffered from the perception (real or not) that passengers and crew were not safe in places like Mazatlan and Acapulco (lines, from Disney to Holland America, recently canceled calls to Mazatlan though have resumed visits there), Cozumel, part of the Western Caribbean region, has not been plagued with such problems. However, the Caribbean has certainly had some challenges with crimes and murders on islands; last year, a young Carnival cruise passenger was shot and killed on St. Thomas, when the safari bus she was riding to the beach was caught in the middle of a gang shootout. On Antigua, a Star Clippers passenger who'd gone to a remote beach alone, was murdered. And passengers on shore excursions in the Bahamas' Nassau and on the island of St. Kitts were held up at gunpoint.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief