May 17, 2006 – FBI agents boarded Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas at the West Indian Co. dock on St. Thomas Wednesday to look into the disappearance of a passenger who went missing earlier this week as the vessel traveled en route from Florida to the Bahamas.
When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Harry Rodriguez, an FBI spokesman in San Juan, said he could neither "confirm or deny" that they were conducting an investigation into the matter. "Anytime an incident of this nature occurs, the FBI will check into whether foul play was a factor," he said. "If foul play is discovered, then the FBI will launch an investigation."
Broadcast and published reports say that the passenger – identified by the U.S. Coast Guard as 21-year-old Daniel Dipiero – was last seen aboard the cruise ship by his companions around midnight Sunday, while the ship was traveling from Port Canaveral, FL to Coco Bay, a private island owned by Royal Caribbean in the Bahamian chain.
However, video surveillance from the ship shows Dipiero alone on deck on the starboard side of the ship between 12:12 a.m. and 2:16 a.m. Monday. "He is seen standing at the ship's railing most of that time he was reclining in a deck chair," Royal Caribbean said in a written statement published in an article on CNN's Web site.
According to the article, Dipiero was reported missing around 11 a.m. Monday by the group of family and friends he was with on the cruise. Royal Caribbean International spokesman Michael Sheehan said after the report was made, onboard announcements were made while both the ship and the island were searched.
Additionally, a search was conducted via aircraft and boat by the U.S. Coast Guard, who scoured "the west end of Grand Bahama halfway to Freeport" on Tuesday, the CNN article said.
Royal Caribbean has been plagued with problems over the past year, and has been put in the spotlight with various high-profile disappearances – including that of George A. Smith IV, who went missing while on a honeymoon cruise aboard the Brilliance of the Seas on July 5, 2005.
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