Accidents & Other Crimes

Margaret McCarthy

Thirteen years ago, when my daughter was 4 and son was 9, we went on a Disney Big Red Boat cruise. It was a short trip out of Tampa to the Cozumel area. The ship was small by comparison to other cruise ships and turned out to be a blessing.

It was fairly innocuous in the beginning. They had what they boasted was a wonderful daycare service so adults could have some down time. We thought that was great and took advantage of their services, which were an extra cost.

When we arrived in Cozumel, we departed to spend the day at the beach and had a wonderful time. When we returned, we dressed up in our finest for our formal night of dining. We made all the prior arrangements with the Disney childcare to take care of both our son and daughter, so we could take a tender to shore for an adult night.

We returned at about midnight, on the last tender before the ship departed for the quick return to Tampa.

Being a mom, I decided to check on the kids to make sure all was well, so we could continue to enjoy our evening on board with the other adults.

Our 4-year old daughter was sleeping peacefully and I asked where our son was. The childcare providers just looked at us and said they had no idea where he was. They told us he checked himself out hours earlier.

The ship was moving and I remember telling them to stop the ship. They just stared at us. I repeated myself, but they said they couldn’t.

We were more than furious, we were frantic. We picked up our daughter and spread out to located our 9-year old on the ship. It took almost an hour and the ship was well underway at a fast pace by that point.

We tried to stay calm, but it was a dreadful situation.

The whole time we were in town, my son was wandering the ship. We fortunately found him playing shuffleboard on an upper level with an older gentleman. The guy thought he was with a family that permitted this kid to roam the ship on his own, which was not the case.

Our son was mature for his age, so we were proud that he cared for himself that night, but from that day forward we never let our children out of our sight. Heck, until he was 19-years old, we had to know who he was with, where they were going and when they would return.

The Disney Big Red Boat Cruise ship did not make any attempt to assist us in finding him, nor did they report the incident in any way. Someone could have easily taken him off the ship on a tender. I was just so angry that I just wanted away from that ship.

Disney has since switched carriers, but it doesn’t matter to us.

We will never take a cruise again, and since hearing the other horror stories that go undocumented, I make a point of telling everyone I can, when appropriate, of our experience on the Disney Big Red Boat Cruise, including International Cruise Victims.

I DO NOT TRUST THE CRUISE LINES BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SAFE and I don’t believe that what happens at sea should stay at sea!