After an exhausting search for a cruise passenger who went overboard from a Royal Caribbean vessel, the Coast Guard has decided to call off its rescue mission Tuesday. The missing cruise passenger, a 21-year-old woman from Bartlett, Tennessee, fell from Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Allure of the Seas, Sunday on the inaugural night of a 7-night itinerary that departed from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s always unfortunate when we have to suspend a search, because our main focus is to locate the individual and return her safely to her family,” said Capt. Todd Lutz.
The Coast Guard searched over 2,300 square miles, but the victim’s body was not recovered. Her identity continues to remain a mystery even in her hometown. According to a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, the cruise line does not release names of guests or those whom are travelling aboard the ship and the Coast Guard has not revealed her identity either.
The Coast Guard was originally notified of the missing person around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, roughly two hours after the victim was witnessed to have gone overboard by another passenger. Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, said verification that a passenger is not onboard takes some time, but is necessary before notifying the Coast Guard. Cruise ship officials informed authorities of the tragedy after viewing footage of the incident. Once the cruise passenger’s disappearance was reported, the ship’s captain immediately stopped the vessel and turned around to remain in the area where she was last seen.
“From the video, we could pinpoint the exact time and location using Global Positioning System and provided that information to [the] Coast Guard,” explained Martinez.
Cruise passenger and crewmember disappearances are not as uncommon as people might believe. Shipping companies don’t usually reveal information about missing persons, and obtaining the information from government officials from different countries can take time. Once the disappearance is reported, however, the vessel’s officials have a duty to conduct a search and rescue mission and to notify authorities. If the person is not found aboard the ship, then the vessel must return to the last location in which the missing person was seen, which in this case, the Allure immediately did. Had they failed to do so, the victim – if found – or their loved ones had reasonable grounds to file a claim with a cruise ship accident lawyer.
When a passenger or crewmember goes missing and the vessel’s authorities do not take the proper measures to find them, the cruise line may be held liable for the person’s disappearance. Those who have been unfortunate enough to experience such a tragedy should seek immediate help with a cruise ship attorney to ensure those responsible are held accountable for their negligence. Loved ones of missing cruise travelers may be entitled to obtain damages for their pain and suffering and are encouraged to file a claim as quickly as possible, not only to protect their own rights, but to ensure that the cruise line takes the necessary steps to improve their policies and protocols in the event of a cruise ship tragedy.