Sandip Surwade, 27 – Suspicious Overboard, Grandeur Of The Seas Crew, February 18, 2011, Time of Death 9:00.
Sandip Surwade, 27, was hired by the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, a Miami-based company, through Mumbai-based Hiren International Cruises Limited for an eight month contract aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ ships. He had left for the United States on June 22, 2010 to begin his first contract. Less than eight months later, overboard on Grandeur Of The Seas, Sandip would be dead and his family says nothing adds up.
On February 20, 2011, a representative from Hiren International came to Surwade’s home in Bara Bungalow, Thane, outside Mumbai in India. The representative gave them a number and an e-mail address for Fabio Acevedo, MD, medical supervisor for crew members.
Initially, the family was told that Sandip was missing. At the time, Grandeur Of The Seas was sailing from Florida to the Panama Islands. Later, they were told that Sandip committed suicide by jumped off the deck of the cruise ship on February 18 at 9pm.
The family was told that they searched for Sandip for 26 hours but found no trace of him. The Captain alerted the Royal Dutch Coast Guard in Aruba; they met the ship and assisted in the search operation. They also received an email with Sandip’s alleged suicide letter.
The letter was addressed to his friend Mingal alias Mowgli, who apparently worked with him in the same company. The letter mentions the name “Ayu”, which was alleged to be a girl with whom Sandip was involved. The letter states that his seniors were troubling him and the girl due to their relationship.
The family doubts the authenticity of the letter. Krishna Surwade says that the handwriting is not Sandips and the two-page suicide letter was written in chaste Hindi, a language he was not comfortable in. If he didn’t write it, we now know that some who is fluent in chaste Hindi did. That would narrow down the field of possible witnesses or those involved.
What makes this case so unusual is this other wee little fact. Three days after Surwade’s family was notified he supposedly jumped overboard, taking his own life, a major drug bust took place aboard Grandeur Of The Seas.
On February 23, 2011, Grandeur Of The Seas was docked at Montego Bay, Jamaica, when 73 pounds (33 kilos) of cocaine was seized. That would seem like a pretty large cache of illegal drugs to be found on a cruise ship. Yet, when police came back around another 15 kilos of cocaine is found in the cabin of another crew member. The total cache of cocaine was estimated to be valued on the street at $100 million.
This leads to speculation of a variety of scenarios that may have involved Surwade and a murder, including refusing to be a drug mule, having the lives of this loved-ones threatened if he didn’t carry the drugs into port or perhaps that he stumbled upon this huge cache of drugs, overhearing details of the deal or any variation thereof.
February 18, the ship was at Netherlands Antilles, having left Columbia only three days before. The ship was at Cartagena, Columbia on the 14th and at Santa Marta, Columbia on the 15th. On the 16th, the ship called at Aruba before calling the next day at Curacao. On the 19th, the ship was at sea then calling on the 20th at Panama, before a return on the 21st to Cartagena. The ship then had a day at sea, before calling at Montego Bay in Jamaica.