Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - Scuba Diving Excursion
In January 2003, I decided to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise with several of my friends. Our group consisted of approximately 40 individuals who worked at a local hospital, where I was also employed.
During the cruise, I purchased a shore excursion, which was promoted and sold to me while on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. This excursion was to a resort in Cozumel, Mexico, which included scuba diving. Little did I know that it would result in such a horrifying experience…
I had previously taken scuba lessons in Massachusetts, but I had not yet been certified, as I am very claustrophobic and the Atlantic waters were too murky for certification. I thought it would be a good idea to take additional lessons in the clear waters of Cozumel. The dive instructor, Alfonso Aranda Gomez, who works for Aviomar Group, a corporate company that includes Playasol Park, told me that he was a PADI Master Instructor. Although I asked for a wetsuit, the dive instructor told me that it was not necessary. Since I was nervous, I had also asked not to go very deep.
During the dive, the instructor took me (alone) to a depth of approximately 60 feet. I did not want to go that deep. We stayed under water longer than I wanted and I became tired. While still under water, the dive instructor began to rub his hands over my body and molest me. He grabbed my buttocks and ran his hands up and down my legs. I shook my head “NO” and began to panic, but I tried to maintain my composure. I motioned to return to the surface. I grabbed the rope to get back up to the boat, trying to get away from him, but he grabbed me and began to pull me back down. I tried to fight him off, but he persisted to molest me. Then, he turned off the air on my tank! He pulled my top down (I was wearing a two-piece bathing suit) and bit my breast. I was terrified. At this point, we were about 30 feet under water. I feared that I would die, my body would never be found, and no one would know what happened to me.
Finally, I managed to get back to the surface and returned to my group. I was so frightened that my friends thought a shark had attacked me. I was horrified, shaking, and crying. My friends were very upset and tried to find a police officer, but to no avail.
When I returned to the Royal Caribbean ship, I reported what had happened to me. I could not believe that something like this could happen to me, during a cruise. I didn’t know what to do. I explained what happened to a cruise employee (Jessica), who coordinated the passengers’ activities. I made a report to the Security Officer and was seen by the ship’s doctor.
The excursion company told me that the diving instructor would be fired; however, I wanted him to be criminally prosecuted. When we returned to Miami, there were no FBI Agents to interview me or any other federal agents. I took it upon myself to report what happened to the U.S. Consulate’s Office in Mexico (Anne Harris). In June 2003, in an attempt to have the dive instructor prosecuted, I returned to Mexico. I made a formal declaration against him, but the criminal prosecution has gone nowhere. This has been a very frustrating and fruitless experience.
My life changed on the day that I was attacked. I could not sleep. I was traumatized and forced to seek the assistance from a doctor and a counselor.
The “instructor” had lied to me about being a “PADI Dive Master”. He deceived me by telling me that it was not necessary to wear a wetsuit, so that he could take me into deep water and molest me. I do NOT want this to happen to anyone else and would like to see justice served. I am very frustrated that I had to seek justice alone, and even then, nothing has been accomplished so far.
There are so many unanswered questions:
- How many other victims, like me, have not survived their attacks at the hands of this same individual?
- Who will be his next victim?
- Is this instructor still employed as a scuba diving instructor? If so, by what company?
- Are cruise lines still promoting excursions from companies, where he may be employed?
- Has anyone ever checked the records of missing scuba diving tourists in Cozumel?
I believe cruise lines should:
- Make certain that when THEY sell you an excursion, the activity is SAFE
- WARN you in advance that you are really “ON YOUR OWN” in a foreign country
- Be required to IMMEDIATELY notify the FBI, so that justice may be served
Additionally, there should be a direct and active telephone line to the FBI on all cruise ships, so that passengers can immediately report crimes that are committed against them. What good does it do to report these crimes to the cruise line, if they don’t notify the FBI?
American Citizens should be protected, when they are on vacation cruises!