MIAMI, Florida– It has been reported that a cruise ship passenger on board the cruise ship Independence of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, went overboard at about 1:45 AM, approximately 33 miles from Key Largo.
The Independence of the Seas was on a four-day cruise to Mexico, and was returning to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the time the passenger was reported to have gone overboard.
The cruise ship reportedly notified the authorities promptly and quickly turn the ship around to assist in search and rescue efforts. However, at this point, there is been no reports of finding the missing passenger. According to the cruise line, the man intentionally went overboard from the 12th deck of the ship. There is also no explanation as to why this passenger may have intentionally jumped off the cruise ship if that is indeed the case. I am sure there is video footage of this passenger going overboard which will be reviewed, and we will receive further reports as to exactly why this passenger did go overboard.
Sadly, this is one the many cruise ship disappearances and overboard accidents that have occurred over the years. Many people are reported to go overboard on a cruise ship, many times for unknown reasons. In fact, according to statistics, there have been over 250 man overboard accidents since 2000. Although deck railings are at least 42 inches high as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, making it difficult to fall over a railing that is at least waist height, man overboard incidents keep on occurring. Sometimes suicide is the conclusion reached and sometimes it is accidental. Normally the majority of these cases is associated with the over serving of alcohol on board the cruise ship. However sometimes a passenger is simply leaning too far over the railing and ends up falling.
Most people are familiar with the George Smith IV case, the young man who went overboard on the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship during his honeymoon cruise with his bride Jennifer Hagel Smith. What happened to George Smith still remains a mystery today. His story has been the subject of books and movies, and attracted a lot of public attention. His case caused the beginning of United States congressional hearings to address cruise ship safety and security, as well as requirements for the cruise ship companies to report missing persons and criminal activity aboard their ships.
The congressional hearings in Washington D.C. led to legislation that involved technology the cruise line would implement in order to detect those cruise ship overboard cases. In this situation it does seem to have been a fast response time to the rescue compared to past cases where search efforts were delayed by hours. Right when the passenger either fell or jumped off the boat, Royal Caribbean contacted the United State Coast Guard and launched two lifeboats to assist in the search. However, as statistics regarding cruise ship disappearances show, this is sadly not the first man overboard accident. Clearly, technology to detect those who fall overboard is not enough and there needs to be more safety changes implemented within the cruise line industry.