Mother Faces Charges After Leaving Kids Home as She Goes on a Cruise

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Far from the family-friendly atmosphere that cruises represent, a Houston mother has been charged with child abandonment after leaving her two young children alone to embark on a cruise from Florida.

Mom Arrested After Cruising Without Her Kids

29-year-old Lakesha Woods Williams was arrested following her return from a cruise that departed from Florida in early April 2024, and which made a call to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean.

The specific details of the ship and other ports visited are unclear; however, multiple cruise ships sail to San Juan from Florida, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Virgin Voyages. 

Keegan Childers, the chief prosecutor of the 209th District Court, said to ABC13: “These children were left unattended for many days and put in harm’s way. For them to provide for themselves, feed themselves, take care of themselves, as well as what if somebody breaks in? What if there’s a bad neighbor? Any number of horror, nightmare scenarios that could come up.”

Neighbors in the luxury high-rise in Houston where Williams lives reported seeing her leave with her luggage on Thursday, April 4, but without her children. Alarms were raised when she did not return, prompting a welfare check by Harris County Precinct 5 deputies.

Royal Caribbean Passengers
Royal Caribbean Passengers

Upon entering the flat on April 9, authorities found Williams’ 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter alone in conditions that were far from safe. The home was in disarray, with a smell of urine and leftover food scattered throughout the highrise apartment. The children informed the deputies that their mother had gone on a cruise, as confirmed by Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 5.

Read Also: What Are the Best Cruise Lines for Families?

We are still putting together the facts and circumstances of how these children were left alone for several days,said Constable Ted Heap,but the important thing is they are safe now and those responsible should be held accountable for leaving these kids in an unsafe situation.

Remote Monitoring

The mother had left a webcam running and a telephone, which she used to check in on her kids while she was out having fun on a cruise. After she returned home on Wednesday, April 10, the mother lied to the authorities about her identity.

The two children, an 8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl were in relatively good health when firefighters entered the apartment, and have since been handed over to a family member.

Chief Prosecutor Keegan Childers has pressed charges against the neglectful mother for abandoning a child with intent to return.

Child Welfare on Cruises

Besides being heartbreaking, the entire episode with Lakesha Woods Williams is incomprehensible. Any parent would always bring their children on a cruise, and even if impossible, for example, on an 18+ cruise such as Virgin Voyages, ensure they are under the care of a suitable and caring adult.

Cruise Ships Docked at PortMiami, Florida
Cruise Ships Docked at PortMiami, Florida (Photo Credit: Anthony Giarrusso)

Cruise ships are an ideal vacation option for children, offering a myriad of opportunities for parents to have some important time alone without the kids. Onboard family-friendly cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, children can participate in fully supervised youth programs, which provide a variety of activities designed to educate and entertain. 

These programs often include science experiments, arts and crafts sessions, and sports competitions, all conducted under the watchful eyes of trained professionals. The programs are designed to allow parents to spend some doing adult things, such as going to the Spa, enjoying a cocktail at the bar, or dining in upscale restaurants.

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