Articles Posted in Cruise Ship Disappearances

It has been reported that a 3-year-old girl on board a Carnival Cruise Line cruise ship fell from a stateroom balcony to the deck below, suffering injuries which required her to be airlifted to a hospital in Tampa, Florida. The incident took place this past Friday aboard the Carnival Breeze. The ship was on its way back to Galveston, Texas, after cruising to the Bahamas.

carnival-300x186The nature and extent of the injuries were not known at the time, other than it was reported that there was severe bruising to the facial area, and a Coast Guard officer commented that he did not believe the injuries to be more serious injuries than facial fractures, although that remains to be seen. It is also unclear why the 3-year-old fell from the balcony in her stateroom.

It is concerning that only one day earlier a similar incident was reported aboard the Carnival Valor, another Carnival Cruise Line ship, Carnival Valor, where a 30-year-old passenger fell and injured her head requiring evacuation by the United States Coast Guard. The ship was just ten miles from Galveston, Texas, when she was medevacs from the ship. Details from her fall are unknown at this time.

There is a report of yet again another passenger on a cruise ship reported to have gone overboard, and not found. The latest involves a 32-year-old male from Georgia, a passenger on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship, a Carnival Cruise Line ship, who reportedly went overboard in the early morning hours of Friday, April 7, while the vessel was in Bahamian territorial waters after having left Cape Canaveral, Florida.

carnival-liberty-300x225At this time, the reports are that the United States Coast Guard was participating in the search and rescue efforts, as it does involve a United States citizen, and the ship did depart from the United States port. The Bahamian maritime authority will also get involved since the incident did happen in Bahamian waters.

Statistics that are available indicate there have been a number of passengers who have been reported to have gone overboard on a cruise ship this year alone. Just two weeks ago, we reported on another carnival passenger who fell overboard from the Carnival Victory ship.

MIAMI, Florida–There has been another reported incident of a passenger on a cruise ship falling overboard. This past Wednesday, a 23-year-old male passenger from Florida was reported to have fallen from the eighth deck of the Carnival Victory, a Carnival Cruise Line ship, at around 3 a.m. Since the cruise ship was close to the territorial waters of Cuba, Cuban authorities got involved in the rescue efforts, as well as the United States Coast Guard. After thoroughly searching the area for 16 hours, the Coast Guard called off the search for the missing passenger.

carnival-300x186Unfortunately, we have reported about way too many instances of passengers falling overboard during a cruise vacation, specifically on a Carnival cruise ship. Just last month, a 24- year-old male fell off another Carnival ship. According to Ross Klein, almost half of the overboard incidents on cruises have actually occurred on Carnival ships.

Why do passengers continue falling overboard?

MIAMI, Florida–In a very strange case, a man employed as an IT consultant, who was on a cruise with his wife and two small children, was arrested in Rome, Italy, where he is suspected of the murder of his wife during an 11-day Mediterranean cruise aboard the passenger cruise ship MSC Magnifica, operated by MSC Cruises.

rome-airport-229x300At the end of the cruise, the husband and the two children left the vessel and were at Rome’s airport waiting for their flight home to Dublin when the arrest occurred. Authorities were suspicious because the tracking of the passengers showed that the wife had never left the cruise ship and had never been reported missing by her husband. After some questioning of the young children, as well as other reports that surfaced regarding an interaction with a gift shop employee and the couple, Belling was arrested in Rome for the suspected murder of his wife.

His attorney has stated that there is an explanation for the disappearance of his wife and the reason it was not reported. This was discussed at the preliminary hearing this past Friday, where Mr. Belling said his wife was not enjoying the cruise and assumed she just went back home to Ireland, as she had done on past family vacations. However, the judge ruled that Mr. Belling should remain in custody because of his “suspect” behavior and the risk that he would leave Italy if released.

MIAMI, Florida–Another passenger has been reported to have fallen overboard from a cruise ship. Unlike the latest tragedy aboard the Carnival Elation, this story ended successfully. According to news reports, a cruise ship passenger aboard Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess fell into Pacific Ocean when the ship was between Brisbane and New Caledonia at around 4 p.m. this past Friday. The ship was on an 11-day cruise from Brisbane, Australia. Once the “man overboard” announcement was made, the ship turned around in hopes of finding the woman. Life rings and a lifeboat were deployed into the water, and about 45 minutes later, the woman was located by the lifeboat and brought back aboard the ship. There are no details as to why she fell overboard and whether the ship had a man overboard system in place. It seems like either someone spotted the woman falling overboard or the ship did have some sort of system in place because of the quick turnaround time between when the woman was reported overboard and her successful rescue.

ocean-195x300With the increasing number of passengers or crew members being reported going overboard from a cruise ship, even two man overboard incidents in one week, the news of such events occurring is not as shocking as it used to be, but obviously still is alarming as ever. On Ross Klein’s website Cruise Junkie, a site that keeps track of cases involving people going overboard on cruise ships, this high number of overboard passengers and crew members is illustrated. This most recent case on the Sun Princess, along with Ross Klein’s statistics, again points to the need for the cruise lines to step up to the plate and comply with the legislation requiring man overboard systems to be installed on the cruise ships. Clearly whatever system cruises currently have in place is not enough.

On a side legal note, most of the cases we hear about where a passenger goes overboard and is never found, results in little or no recovery against cruise ship company because of a law called the Death on the High Seas Act. Most cases happen when the cruise ship is outside the territorial waters of the United States, which triggers the application of the Death on the High Seas Act. This statute unfairly eliminates any recovery for the surviving family members for their mental anguish, grief, and emotional distress, which is referred to as non-pecuniary damages. The Death on the High Seas Act limits recovery to pecuniary damages, which many times will not be substantial, allowing the cruise ship company to escape responsibility. This is a law that is archaic and needs to be changed. Holding the cruise lines accountable if there is negligence, including failure to follow laws requiring implementation of man overboard systems, provides the additional incentive to make cruise ships safer for all. Instead, making companies more responsible under our system of law has been eliminated in the cruise ship industry by applying the Death on the High Seas Act

MIAMI, Florida–This past Monday, a 24-year-old male reportedly fell overboard from the 11th deck of the Carnival Elation cruise ship. The cruise ship returned to its port in Jacksonville yesterday without the missing passenger. It used to be shocking for people to hear that a passenger was reported to have fallen overboard on a cruise ship. Then came the case of George Smith, a man who went overboard during his honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. George Smith was a young handsome man who had just married his young beautiful wife, Jennifer Hagel, in a storybook wedding in Connecticut. They then headed off to their honeymoon on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and George Smith never returned. During the cruise he was reported missing, and after searching for him, blood was discovered on the canopy below his balcony, where it is believed he struck after falling off his  cabin’s balcony before landing in the water.

bahamascruise-300x225The case received national attention, which prompted congressional hearings addressing cruise ship safety and security. The case generated so much interest and focus that it even became the subject of books and movies. His body was never found. Most experts believe he was the victim of foul play, possibly murder. However, an FBI investigation never resulted in the prosecution of anyone for any crime. The parents spent years searching for answers, and unfortunately, many questions remain today, 10 years later.

In this recent case where a young cruise ship passenger fell  from the 11th deck of a Carnival cruise ship, the facts reported again illustrate that the cruise ship industry is not employing man overboard systems, nor monitoring their surveillance cameras, so that if a passenger does fall overboard, immediate action can be taken. According to reports, the 24-year-old passenger was last seen by his wife at around 2:45 AM, and she then reported him missing at 8:30 AM when the ship reached Nassau, Bahamas. The procedures followed by Carnival then took place, where the surveillance cameras were reviewed back in time, and it was discovered the passenger actually went overboard at 2:45 AM. The Coast Guard was notified at around 11 a.m., which is when the search began. Therefore, any search and rescue efforts took place over eight hours after the passenger went overboard!

MIAMI, Florida–The body of a female passenger who had gone missing from a Tirenia ferry has been located two months later in the ship’s ventilation shaft. The female passenger was aboard the MV Sharden, a ferry which can carry almost 3,000 passengers and 850 cars, back to Genoa after having vacationed in Sardinia, Italy with her husband. According to reports, the couple had been resting on sunbeds aboard the boat when his wife disappeared. The captain then ordered the ship personnel to conduct a search of the entire ship. Sadly, his wife could not be found, leading to the conclusion that she either had fallen overboard or had been the victim of a crime. However, two months later, her dead body has been found in the ship’s ventilation shaft. According to an autopsy report, she had died the night after she had disappeared

italy-300x225There have been incidences in the past where a passenger has reported something falling from above, believing it to have been a body falling into the water. The cruise ship company would then do an investigation on board the ship, determining that a passenger was indeed missing. However, at that point, precious time had passed before the authorities were notified and the search and rescue efforts started. This meant that usually the passenger was not found.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law legislation called the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which in part addressed overboard passengers, what Congress believed to be a serious problem with the cruise ship industry. Not only did Congress address the problem that these incidents were not always reported, as there were no mandatory reporting requirements that applied to the cruise ship industry at the time, but there was also a concern with delayed search and rescue efforts once a passenger was reported overboard. The legislation called for implementation of available technology, which would enable ships to immediately detect when someone had fallen overboard, prompting quicker search and rescue efforts.

MIAMI, Florida–In the most recently reported cruise ship disappearance, the first reported overboard passenger for the new year, MSC Divina cruise ship, a cruise ship owned and operated by MSC Cruises, announced that a 74-year-old  French passenger was discovered missing. It was around 3 a.m. and the ship was just north of Puerto Rico at the time his wife last saw him. No eyewitnesses were reported to have seen the passenger go overboard. From early reports, it does not suggest that the cruise ship diverted and conducted a search and rescue effort in the waters for the passenger. However, it is reported that the missing passenger was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard, who then conducted a search and rescue effort. However, the exact timing of when the passenger went missing, when the cruise ship company notified the authorities, and when a search and rescue effort began, is unknown at this time.

puerto-rico-300x225The timing of an implementation of a search and rescue effort is critical when a passenger has fallen overboard on a cruise ship. There is a very small window of opportunity for the person to be rescued, and that window of opportunity closes each minute that passes. Often times, a passenger is reported overboard in international waters, and at night. This makes the window of opportunity even smaller.

In big cities, it is not uncommon to hear of a reported missing person. Over the years, missing passengers have also become much more common than ever imagined on cruises. Passengers going overboard on cruise ships have reached numbers that are now being documented so that the regulatory bodies can get a better idea of the problem, and so the public can become more aware of the dangers of falling overboard on a cruise.

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.

coast-guard-300x179The 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.

fishingboatIn an amazing story, it has been reported that a passenger from Shangai, who fell overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise from Japan to China, has lived to tell the tale. Last Wednesday, August 10th, the 32-year-old woman fell overboard when she leaned too far over a guard railing, falling four decks into the water. This is equivalent to about seven stories. Normally, the fall alone is enough to kill someone. Here is the first miracle; she survived the fall without any injury.

Once overboard, the chances of survival are also very slim, unless the cruise line detects the passenger going overboard promptly. In this case the cruise line did not detect that a passenger had gone overboard, so there were no immediate rescue efforts. Here is the second miracle; she survived 38 hours drifting at sea.

How did this 32-year-old female passenger survive? She reports that she stayed above the ocean water, and swam away from any large vessels she saw, because she was smart enough to know that she could be overcome by the wakes, or sucked into the propellers.  Amazingly, she survived for 38 hours before she was rescued by a fishing boat Friday morning.

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