Family finds hidden camera in their Carnival cruise cabin. But who was recording?
BY CHABELI HERRERA
It’s the kind of thing you hear about happening in hotel rooms, changing rooms and, most recently, Airbnb rentals: Guests placing cameras inside rooms to secretly record guests for what often are nefarious reasons.
Video voyeurism has now gone to sea — on a cruise ship.
One Florida family claims it found a video camera hidden in its stateroom aboard a three-night Carnival Cruise Line voyage from Mobile, Alabama to Mexico.
The Pensacola couple and their 10-year-old son were searching for dusty areas in their cabin, No. 160 on the Carnival Fantasy, after the father suffered an allergy attack on the second night of their voyage. In the process, they uncovered a small camera hidden in the cables behind their stateroom TV, the father said.
The device, “warm to the touch,” appeared to have an antenna, indicating it might be transmitting information, the father said. (The family has asked to remain anonymous in the event their images were recorded and distributed.) The story was first reported by the Miami New Times.
THE CONCERN WAS THAT SOMEBODY HAD BEEN RECORDING AND WE’VE GOT A CHILD. MY MAIN CONCERN IS THERE IS VIDEO OF HIM ONLINE NOW. AND I’LL NEVER KNOW.
“The concern was that somebody had been recording and we’ve got a child. My main concern is there is video of him online now. And I’ll never know,” the father told the Miami Herald. “I’m also concerned for anybody else who might have stayed in the cabin before us and anybody else who might be victims and don’t realize it.”
According to the father, the family contacted Carnival security; onboard crew inspected the device and dismantled it. Video shot by the family shows the father asking a Carnival crew member inspecting the camera whether he wants “to put gloves or something on so you can finger print it?” The crew member’s response is not shown.
The father was told the camera was equipped with a transmitter like those used on drones, he said. He spoke to Customs and Border Protection officers at port who said they did not have jurisdiction in the matter, but said he was not informed whether the incident had been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other officials.
CARNIVAL CONFIRMED THE INCIDENT IN A STATEMENT. ITS INVESTIGATION FOUND THE CAMERA WAS “NON-WORKING.”
Doral-based Carnival confirmed the incident in a statement. Its investigation found the camera was “non-working.”
“After review by the ship’s technicians, it was determined that device was not operational,” said spokesman Vance Gulliksen in a statement. “A full investigation was conducted by the shipboard team in tandem with Carnival’s shoreside security personnel who also notified U.S. law enforcement, including the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and local police, when the ship arrived in Mobile following the cruise.”
Maritime attorney Michael Winkleman, of Miami-based firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, said the law of the flag of the ship typically determines the governing agency, but if a crime such as voyeurism is committed against a U.S. citizen, the FBI has jurisdiction.
It is still unclear whether a guest or crew member placed the camera in the stateroom.
The family contacted Miami-based maritime lawyer Jim Walker, seeking to use Walker as a mediator with Carnival to get more information on their case. They claim that Carnival did not contact them after the incident took place and are concerned the crew was not thorough enough in its investigation. The family does not yet plan to file a lawsuit, the father said.
“We weren’t trying to get any money; we weren’t trying to get a free cruise. I just wanted to have action taken on it,” he said.
The family, which has sailed about 10 times on Carnival, said the cruise line has not offered them any type of apology for the incident.
Walker, a maritime lawyer who has worked on numerous cases involving cruise incidents, said this is the first time he’s heard of a hidden video camera on a cruise ship. Gulliksen at Carnival said it’s a first for him too. And attorney Winkleman said he’s only heard of one other case of cruise video voyeurism.
WE WEREN’T TRYING TO GET ANY MONEY; WE WEREN’T TRYING TO GET A FREE CRUISE. I JUST WANTED TO HAVE ACTION TAKEN ON IT.
But the incidents aren’t new elsewhere.
In October, an Indiana couple staying at a Longboat Key, Florida Airbnb rental discovered a camera hidden in the smoke detector in the room. Police ultimately arrested the homeowner, 56-year-old Wayne Natt, who was charged with one count of video voyeurism.
Natt told police in a statement that the camera was used for sex parties he hosted.