Passengers described three days of mayhem during what was supposed to be an ideal holiday through the South Pacific.
The Carnival Legend arrived at its homeport in Melbourne on Saturday, following an unscheduled stop to offload the 23-member family at Eden on the the New South Wales south coast.
An NSW police investigation is now under way into the brawl that broke out in the early hours of Friday at the ship’s nightclub.
Lisa Bolitho, a passenger, said the “big Italian family” spent the past few days attacking “Aussies”. “Very violent, they were full-on attacks,” she told reporters on Saturday.
“The captain said ‘What do you want me to do about it – throw them overboard?’.
“We’ve all made several complains saying kids were scared. They saw people getting strangled and punched up.”
Bolitho questioned the management’s handling of the incident.
“We were saying ‘We want them either locked up or taken off board’. It never happened and there was another four occasions,” she said. “We dropped them off at Eden yesterday, but that was after three days of violence.”
She said security staff ended up “jumping” the family, and had no choice but to do so. “They deserved everything they got – they were the aggressors.”
Bolitho said her son was targeted by the family, and the pair had to flee and lock themselves in their cabin.
“I was watching the fight and one guy came up to me and said ‘Do you want to go too bro?” her son said. “My mum had to drag me away from it all. They were trying to pick on any Aussie they could find.”
Kellie, a passenger, says a group of troublemakers had been starting fights for a few days including in front of children playing in the pool.
“There are people walking around with cut heads and hands,” she told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
David Barkho says his son phoned and begged him to call authorities after he sustained a head injury while on the ship.
His 20-year-old son said “a lot of people are bleeding, a lot of people down”.
“He rang me about 1am this morning and said ‘Pease dad, please dad, call the federal police’,” Mr Barkho told the radio station on Friday.
Video footage of the scuffle, shared on social media, shows dozens of people fighting each other, security guards and other staff before the person filming the incident is confronted by staff.
The Carnival general manager, Jennifer Vandekreek, said there were “limited and isolated events with the family in question” in the lead-up to the brawl.
“It is always our last resort. We felt it was the best course of action for the safety and security of our guests and our crew.
“We sincerely apologise to our guests who were impacted by the disruptive behaviour of the group removed from the ship by the NSW Police in Eden yesterday. Our care team is supporting those guests who have been affected,” she said in a statement.
The group was taken ashore and then to Canberra where they made other travel arrangements, NSW Police said.
Another video on social media shows dozens of passengers applauding, and taunting the family, as they were forced off the anchored ship and handed over to water police.
“Enjoy the rest of your cruise,” one woman yells out.
Carnival Cruise Line has also launched an internal investigation.
The incident comes after seven people were offloaded from a P&O ship in Sydney on Sunday after a 37-year-old Russian woman allegedly struck a 21-year-old man with an empty wine bottle during a fight about 1am.
Six men were released without charge while the Russian was charged with reckless wounding and affray.
Comment: The Daily Mail reports:
The Carnival Legend ship was on a 10-day South Pacific cruise when savage fist fights broke out as it was 220km off Jervis Bay, Australia, around 1am on Friday.
One witness, named only as Zac, said the brawl started after two men tangled feet, leading to a bitter exchange of words between two family groups.
That then escalated into a brawl, with Zac accusing security of escalating the situation before piling into the foray with vicious kicks and punches.
He told 3AW: ‘This is all over a thong [flip-flop] – not a foot – a thong being stepped on and being instantly apologised for.’
Footage of one of the fights shows two men being bundled to the floor by dozens of security guards who punch and kick the pair in an attempt to separate them.
Two women are also pinned down after they become involved in the massive brawl which left other passengers so fearful they barricaded themselves in their rooms.
Mr Barkho also alleges cruise security staff are attempting to destroy images and footage from the incident.
‘He (George) said, “The security came in and took his phone, and deleted a lot of images”,’ he added.
Passenger Kellie Petersen told 3AW it was 27 people from one big ‘family group’ inciting the violence.
‘We have been told to watch our backs by this group,’ she said.
‘They fought in front of my children in the pool… five of them surrounded my husband.’
Comment: Images from 3AW:
Footage of the fighting:
What on earth is happening to people?