Emergency Crews Continue Search for Cruise Passenger Who Went Overboard

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Coast Guard crews are still searching for a female passenger who went overboard on Sunday night roughly 47 miles east of Fort Lauderdale while on a Royal Caribbean Cruises itinerary.

The cruise passenger disappearance occurred on Sunday night – the first night of the cruise – aboard the Allure of the Seas. The 5,400-passenger ship was en route to Nassau for a 7-night Caribbean itinerary from Port Everglades.

Royal Caribbean issued a statement, saying another passenger witnessed the victim go overboard just before 9:30 p.m. EDT. Authorities explain the passenger, a 21-year-old woman from Bartlett, Tennessee whose name has yet to be released, had been alone in her cabin at the time of the cruise ship accident.

When authorities on the ship got word of the incident, “The ship’s Captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard,” said Royal Caribbean’s statement.

The cruise line added that a review of Allure’s closed-circuit camera footage showed the passenger going over the side of the vessel. The location of the ship at the time the passenger went overboard was marked on the ship’s GPS system.

Royal Caribbean turned the case over to the Coast Guard the night of the incident, but issued a statement offering their support to the victim’s loved ones.

“Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” said the cruise line.

Four Coast Guard aircraft crews and a cutter crew were searching the Atlantic Ocean Monday near the scene of the passenger’s disappearance, an area that spans roughly 320 square miles. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Elgammal said that the search would continue “until we’ve exhausted all our assets.”

While it may not appear it, overboard cruise accidents happen more often than anyone can imagine. According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon-Paul Rios, “It happens throughout the year, and it’s not uncommon.”

According to data compiled on CruiseJunkie.com, a cruise industry-focused website, this year alone, 13 passengers and crewmembers have fallen or jumped overboard from cruise ships and ferries across the globe, including Sunday’s incident. The findings explained many of the cases were alcohol-related and suicides, while some have yet to be explained.

At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we know that the disappearance of passengers and crewmembers from vessels at sea occurs quite often and sometimes, this information is not revealed by the shipping companies. Since a disappearance on the high seas may happen on international waters, obtaining incident information from foreign governments is not always easy.

Regardless of where the disappearance takes place, the shipping company involved has a duty to perform a reasonable search and rescue. If the victim is not quickly found onboard the vessel, then the vessel should return to location where the individual(s) was last seen. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many times, passengers who have fallen overboard have not been rescued until several hours have gone by, and by the time they are found, it is often too late.

A cruise line has a duty to use reasonable care in the performance of a search and rescue operation, and the cruise line can be held responsible for a breach of this duty. If someone you know has gone missing at sea or if you suffered injuries due to an overboard cruise accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and losses. Turn to our cruise ship lawyers immediately to discuss your options and file a case to protect your rights. Our acclaimed maritime attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience assisting clients, including those of passengers who have gone overboard. Call us today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you obtain justice for your tragedy at sea.