This year, the cruise industry has experienced a higher-than-usual rate of cruise passenger overboard accidents. Our maritime lawyers are already representing one of the most controversial man overboards of 2015, the accident involving Bernardo Elbaz, who fell from the Royal Caribbean ship, Oasis of the Seas. Now, we’ve come to learn of yet ANOTHER overboard accident involving a passenger who was sailing aboard the Saga Sapphire, a cruise ship owned and operated by the cruise line, Saga Cruises II Ltd, which specializes in holiday cruises for travelers 50 years of age and older.
According to a Daily Mail article online, the victim, an unnamed 70-year-old British woman, went overboard while the ship was sailing in the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel, a 600-passenger-capacity ship, departed from Southampton on December 7. It had been on a 35-night Christmas voyage to the Caribbean when tragedy struck.
News reports explain that the victim’s travel partner reported her missing early Sunday morning, December 13. Crew members searched the ship for the woman, but could not locate her on board. This prompted cruise personnel to turn the vessel around to her last known whereabouts, Funchal, Madeira, and crew also reported the incident to maritime authorities so an official search and rescue mission could be initiated.
Unfortunately, this is all we know thus far about the incident. Given what we now, it is highly unlikely that the victim survived. Still, investigators do not believe that foul play was a factor in the passenger’s disappearance. But then, how did she come to go overboard?
There are a number of explanations for cruise ship overboard accidents. After handling numerous man overboard claims, our maritime lawyers have found that several of these tragedies are the result of victims being overly intoxicated. Cruise lines make the majority of their revenue on board from alcohol sales, but seeing as how the victim was 70 years old, it is doubtful that she was inebriated at the time of her disappearance.
Since foul play isn’t being considered, and intoxication isn’t likely, we can only assume what may have occurred. Cruise authorities haven’t stated where exactly the victim could have fallen from while on the ship. Could she have leaned too far over the railings? Did she have a balcony stateroom that she might have fallen from? Are the vessel’s railings high enough to protect against cruise ship overboard accidents? These are all important questions to consider.
Though several factors could have contributed to the incident, we have yet to even learn about whether the cruise company reviewed onboard footage for clarity on the matter – or, moreover, if the ship was even equipped with a surveillance system. While cruise ship overboard accident victims range in age, the fact that the cruise line promotes travel for elderly persons, security and safety aboard the cruise line’s vessels should be of the utmost priority. The elderly are much more at risk for suffering injuries or a fatal accident on the high seas, and much less able to recover from those injuries or survive tragic accidents.
In the event that the accident turns out to be related to a lack of safety aboard the Saga Sapphire, the victim’s family may have a viable claim, and should consult with an experienced maritime attorney to discuss their rights.
Our maritime attorneys will continue to provide updates as we learn more about the matter and any new developments in the investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s loved ones.