Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberge, 22, turned their public Instagram feeds into travel journals, filling them with boasts about their intercontinental adventures on the MS Sea Princess, a cruise ship bound for Australia.
But their journey came to an abrupt end after the ship berthed in Sydney Harbour: It was there the women were arrested Sunday along with a 63-year-old man named Andre Tamine.
On Monday, the trio appeared in court in Sydney, charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, authorities said.
The street value of the cocaine, which authorities said was found packed in suitcases: about $23 million.
Australian Border Force Commander Tim Fitzgerald said it was the largest seizure of narcotics carried by passengers of a cruise ship or airliner into the country, according to the Associated Press.
(Commenters have left taunting — and occasionally obscene — messages on the Instagram photos since Australian officials announced the bust.)
The three Canadians had boarded the Princess Cruises ship in Dover, England, in July, and then embarked on a 49-day voyage.
"Traveling is one thing," Roberge wrote on Instagram. "But traveling with an open mind, ready to taste everything, see everything, learn everything and get yourself out of your comfort zone ... is probably the best therapy and lesson ever. I used to be afraid to get out of my little town and now I feel like I don't want to see that little town anymore cause it's beautiful out there and it's sooo worth it."
Princess Cruises, which is based in Southern California, said the passengers aboard the Sea Princess visited 17 ports in 11 countries before they arrived Sunday in Sydney.
There, Australian Border Force agents climbed on board the 77,000-ton ship and started searching among its 1,008 guest cabins with help from drug-sniffing dogs, authorities said.
Fitzgerald, the Australian Border Force commander, told reporters that officers found 35 kilograms in the women's cabin and 60 kilograms in the man's cabin, according to the Associated Press.
The cocaine was packed into suitcases so tightly, agents said in a Facebook post, that "these three Canadian nationals did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes."
It's still unclear whether the two women were working with Tamine and why the Canadians were suspected out of some 1,800 others on the ship for smuggling.
But Fitzgerald said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency helped identify the three Canadians as "high-risk passengers."
Authorities are investigating to determine whether the three brought the drugs with them or picked them up somewhere along the way, according to the Associated Press. Indeed, the ship stopped in Colombia and Peru — two of the world's top cocaine-producing countries.
A Princess Cruises representative told The Washington Post that the company "provided full support" to law enforcement agencies.
"Princess Cruises security personnel are highly trained and closely cooperate with government agencies, customs and border patrol, immigration and police services worldwide on an ongoing basis," a company statement read. "As a global cruise company, we take this role seriously and always assist the authorities when called upon.
"As a matter of course all passengers, crew and their luggage are screened using a variety of methods. An investigation is underway and because this is a matter currently before the court in Australia we cannot comment further."
Authorities alluded to their work with an international drug syndicate.
"These syndicates should be on notice that the Australian Border Force is aware of all of the different ways they attempt to smuggle drugs into our country and we are working with a range of international agencies to stop them," Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner Clive Murray said in the statement.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission released a report last month showing that Colombia has been a main source for cocaine in Australia for years.
Last year, Australian law enforcement agencies made more than 105,000 illicit-drug seizures and 133,000 illicit-drug arrests, according to the report. It said that more than 3,200 were cocaine seizures.
Still, the market for cocaine in Oceania, the cluster of Pacific Coast islands north of Australia, has been booming.
The market there has more than doubled over the past decade with "Australia accounting for 99 percent of total cocaine seizures in the region from 1998 to 2014," according to the U.N.'s report.
The increase is in line with reports of rapidly growing prevalence of cocaine use: The prevalence of past-year cocaine use among the general population (aged 14 and older) in Australia doubled from 1 percent in 2004 to 2.1 percent in 2010 and remained stable at this level in 2013.
Authorities said this week's seizure was a joint operation by Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police.
“Today’s successful operation has resulted in three arrests and we will not rule out further activity as we continue our investigations," Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Shane Connelly said in the statement.
The suspects are due back in court Oct. 26.
This story has been updated.