Cruise Ship Passenger With Service Dog Attacked

December 27, 2012
(12:05 p.m. EST) -- A 59-year-old passenger was forcibly disembarked from Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas on December 20 after he attacked another passenger who had a service dog with him.

Cruise Critic first learned of the assault from Cruise Critic member Bloemerl who posted, "My heart goes out to our new found friend and his service dog Freedom. He was viciously attacked late at nite while getting a pizza in the Solarium. He was beaten because a man could not respect service dogs and felt Freedom should not be on board."

Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman did confirm that a 59-year-old passenger "engaged in a physical altercation" with a 53-year-old man who had a service dog but did not comment on the cause of the altercation.

Only the attacker was disembarked for being in violation of the line's guest conduct policy, which states "inappropriate or abusive behavior, including violence, is strictly prohibited." He was disembarked in St. John's, Antigua, the same day as the incident, Martinez added. Additionally, the incident was reported to local law enforcement in St. John's, as well as to the Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida, the office for the county in which the ship is homeported.

Martinez said ship crew would have detained the man had a law enforcement agency asked them to hold him, but no such request was received.

"Since the ship was in port, it was possible to disembark the guest for the violation. If the ship would have been out at sea, the guest would have been held until it was possible to disembark him."

According to Martinez, the victim "sustained minor injuries and was treated in the ship's medical facility."

But according to Bloemerl, the man was transferred to a Fort Lauderdale hospital at the conclusion of the sailing to be checked for broken ribs and possible internal injuries.

At the time of the incident, Vision of the Seas was six days into a 10-night sailing that departed Port Everglades on December 14.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor