Tourists walk to the Norwegian Sky in February at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park. Since March 10, six passengers from three separate cruises aboard the ship have disembarked in the territory and not returned. Immigration officials are asking the public to help locate them. (File photo: Allison Vaughn)

In less than two months, at least six people from three separate cruises aboard the Norwegian Sky disembarked in the Virgin Islands and never returned to the ship. Government and cruise officials, however, are mum on any possible connection between the cases or where the passengers may have gone.

All the cruises originated and ended in La Romana in the Dominican Republic, and the six passengers included four Colombians and one man each from the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic. The most recent arrival was Monica Marcela Pineda, of Colombia, who arrived on Sunday but hadn’t returned to the ship or departed the territory legally as of Monday, when the Immigration Department issued a three-sentence statement asking the public to help find her.

On April 19, two men on an earlier cruise aboard the ship did the same thing: Pascal Bosman of the Netherlands and

Martire Cabrera of the Dominican Republic, who was carrying a St. Kitts and Nevis passport, remained “at large” as of the following day, the Immigration Department announced in a similar plea for help issued on April 20.

On March 10, three Colombians — Jean Carlo Ospina Cano, Pamela Mesa Escobar and Yesica Yojana Marin Ramirez — disembarked from the ship in the territory and never returned, according to the department.

Yesterday, government Information Officer Sonjé Greenidge told the Beacon that the matters are “still under investigation and processing.” Otherwise, government officials and police have not provided further updates on any of the passengers despite requests from the Beacon.

Norwegian response

The cruise line, however, provided a brief response on Tuesday. Asked about the three incidents, a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line addressed only the second, with Messrs. Bosman and Cabrera.

“On April 19, 2024, while docked in Road Town (Tortola), British Virgin Islands, two guests disembarked the vessel at their leisure and did not return to the ship by the mandatory all aboard time,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

“Security then visited the guests’ staterooms and found no personal belongings. Local authorities were immediately notified and have taken over the investigation to locate the guests.”

The spokesperson added that the cruise line’s “top priority” is its guests’ “safety and security.”

“We are fully assisting with the ongoing investigation,” they added. “We encourage anyone with information to come forward and assist the local authorities.”

The spokesperson provided no information about the other two incidents and did not immediately respond to a follow-up query.

The 2,002-passenger-capacity Norwegian Sky offers frequent Eastern Caribbean cruises that start and end in the Dominican Republic and include Tortola on their itinerary.

First of the year

Earlier in the year, a Brazilian couple arrived in the territory aboard another cruise ship and stayed here for what they claimed were medical reasons before flying out of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport to continue their journey.

Government issued a bulletin shortly before 3 p.m. on Jan. 7 seeking assistance finding Ana Carolina Thomé and Diego Cabral.

“Both individuals travelled to the territory via cruise ship Costa Pacifica [on Jan. 6] and have not returned to the ship and remain at large,” the bulletin stated, adding that anyone with information about the couple should contact the Immigration Department.

Before the day was out, however, Ms. Thomé posted a comment under a related story on 284 Media’s Facebook page.

“Thank you all for the concern,” she wrote. “We are fine. Had some healthy [sic] trouble in the cruise and stayed in BVI. Today we took the flight to St. Maarten and will continue our trip. Big hug to all of you. Loved the island.”

‘A little dizzy’

Ms. Thomé provided more details in a WhatsApp message to the Beacon on Jan. 9.

“I wasn’t feeling good since [Jan. 5], like a little dizzy,” she wrote. “I think it’s because I’ve had [laryngitis] in the past. On [Jan. 6], I had a crisis, and that’s when we decided to stay in BVI and don’t go back to the cruise.”

Fearing that her condition could worsen on the ship, she told the cruise ship crew, who assisted them via WhatsApp, she stated.

“We booked a last-minute hotel: Heritage Hotel,” she added. “We loved it. The next day, I was already feeling better, so we went to Virgin Gorda.”

At 7:35 p.m. that evening — nearly five hours after government issued the bulletin seeking the couple — they flew to St. Maarten on a WinAir flight from Beef Island, she wrote.

“At BVI airport, there’s no immigration or machines checking the passports, so I think that’s why at night they still thought we were in BVI,” she added. “When I got to St. Maarten, a Brazilian lady reached me on WhatsApp and sent me all the posts on Facebook.”

Though they were worried about the reports, they were unable to call the VI police because their phone sim card was from Brazil and didn’t work from St. Maarten, she explained.

“So I just commented on every post I could find hoping they would see,” she wrote. “I’m still worried that maybe we got some problem with immigration, so I hope they see this and make our ‘file’ okay, because we had no intentions of staying more than a day.”

From the VI, they continued their Caribbean trip, heading to the Bahamas next with plans to return to Brazil by Jan. 22, she stated at the time.

‘At large’

Since Jan. 7, the Immigration Department has frequently described passengers who fail to re-board their cruise ship as “at large.”

“In this instance ‘at large’ means not yet captured as opposed to escaped,” Ms. Greenidge previously explained in Jan. 7 message posted in a WhatsApp group for the media.

Tourists walk to the Norwegian Sky in February at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park. Since March 10, six passengers from three separate cruises aboard the ship have disembarked in the territory and not returned. Immigration officials are asking the public to help locate them. (File Photo: Allison Vaughn)