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Atlantis Events’ New Social Media Policy Misses the Mark

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Atlantis Events advertises its upcoming “Largest Gay Cruise in History” aboard the “incredible Harmony of the Seas” as the “most outrageously fun cruise Atlantis has ever created! . . . a star-studded festival of pure fun and excitement unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.” Scheduled for February 4th to 12th, the cruise promises “8 fabulous nights packed full of awe-inspiring parties, superstar performers, great friends, and endless surprises.”

Atlantis Events also promises that “every moment on an Atlantis cruise is an opportunity to share, be it your name, your story, costume, or something a bit more scandalous.” But this year, Atlantis has a new rule it threatens to enforce. In an email recently sent to the over 5,000 guests who are booked on the cruise, it claims that it will disembark (without refund) any guest who publishes any photos or videos of “anything explicitly sexual on social media.”

Atlantis Events’ New Social Media Policy

Atlantis has apparently tried to modify its terms and condition via an email which states:

“Important – New Social Media Policy – While we want everyone to have fun, there are limits and so we ask that you be respectful of all guests and our cruise partners. Please do not post anything explicitly sexual on social media in a public forum or other online space. Any guest who posts or publishes an explicit and publicly visible photo or video will be asked to leave the ship with no refund. This also applies to any private media posts (whether or not behind a paywall) that identify or could identify either Atlantis, our vendor brands, their properties, or any other guests with or without permission. We take this seriously and have a team of volunteers monitoring most sites. Thank you for understanding and keeping Atlantis friendly!”

The person who sent me this email asks rhetorically “wouldn’t one think keeping Atlantis friendly would mean banning public drug use rather than trying to ban people from photographing and posting public sex?”

An Ugly History of Overdoses, Arrests and Death Due to Drugs

A good questions I suppose considering that medical emergencies (often drug overdoses) are not uncommon on Royal Caribbean cruises chartered by Atlantis Events. For that matter, Atlantis Events cruises have been plagued by drug use, passengers going overboard and drug-related shipboard deaths over the years.

The last ten years have involved numerous overdoses, arrests and at least five drug-related deaths on Royal Caribbean cruises chartered to Atlantis:

Last year, a guest attending the Atlantis Events cruise aboard the Oasis of the Sea died as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was heading to Mexico due to drug use complicated by inadequate medical care.

In February 2019, federal agents arrested two men trying to board the Allure of the Seas at PortMiami for possession of a large quantity of drugs which they were intending to sell on the cruise ship which had been chartered by Atlantis Events. Local News 10  reported that after the men arrived at PortMiami, a drug sniffing canine alerted its handler to their luggage which contained MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, Viagra, Adderall and GHB.

In January 2018, Storm Chasers’ star Joel Taylor died of a suspected overdose on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, which had been chartered by Atlantis Events. According to TMZ and other tabloid websites, passengers on the Royal Caribbean ship stated that “drugs on the party boat were plentiful.” Rosie Spinks, a talented reporter who worked for Quartz at that time, reported on Mr. Taylor’s drug death in an article titled A Reality Star’s Death Exposed the Dangerous Party Culture on Gay Cruises.

In February 2012, an Atlantis Events attendee went overboard from the Allure of the Seas operated by Royal Caribbean. His body was never recovered and he is presumed to be dead. (There was no clear indication that the overboard was directly related to drug use on the ship).

Shortly before the Royal Caribbean/Atlantis 20th Anniversary cruise in February 2011, I questioned Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World’s Largest Gay Cruise?  I asked why Royal Caribbean tolerated the widespread use of drugs on its ships during Atlantis Events cruise parties.

A week later,  cruise passenger, Barry Krumholz, was arrested for selling large quantities of ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, ketamine and other drugs aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas chartered by Atlantis Events. There were reportedly a half-dozen drug overdoses during the cruise.

In 2010, there was another passenger death on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas which had been chartered to Atlantis Events. There was widespread discussion regarding the use of drugs during Atlantis Events sponsored events.

In 2009, a passenger died after he reportedly took drugs during a cruise aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship which had been chartered for the use of Atlantis Events. Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers and a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (“GLAAD”), died on the Mariner of the Seas. The medical care was described by party goers as delayed and haphazard.

Can and Will the New Social Media Policy Be Enforced?

The irony is that Atlantis Events requires all guests to agree to authorize the “full unencumbered right in perpetuity and throughout the universe to use your photograph, image, name and likeness in video, and voice in any media of any of kind now known or hereinafter devised, including the right to assign and authorize your photograph, your image, name and likeness in video, for Atlantis’ promotion, advertising or any other lawful purposes, without limitations, at Atlantis’s sole discretion . . . “

In other word, Atlantis Events can use photos or video of guests however it sees fit but guests cannot post photos or videos of what actually happens on the cruise.

From a legal perspective, it is questionable that a concessionaire can legally impose new rules (in addition to the terms and conditions in a cruise ticket which is considered to be the legally binding contract with guests). via an email, sent after the guests had already booked their cruises.

It is also questionable whether an entertainment concessionaire, as opposed to the captain and/or vessel owner/operator, has the legal authority to force a passenger from the cruise ship in a foreign port (the cruise includes Haiti, Aruba and Curacao).

As a practical matter, it also seems difficult for either Atlantis Events or Royal Caribbean to actually enforce this new social media policy despite Atlantis’ claims of a “team of volunteers monitoring most sites.”

The question is not just why Atlantis Events thought that it should try to prevent posting of sexually explicit photos and video of this sexually charged public event in such an amateurish, last-minute way. The real question is why has Atlantis Events has not made at least an equal effort to prevent the use of recreational party drugs which have claimed so many lives during these type of cruises.

Have a comment or question? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Atlantis Events and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

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