Cruise Disappearances

Family of Missing Cruise Ship Passenger Writes Letter to Royal Caribbean CEO Seeking Answers


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Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Although some people believe that time heals all wounds, there are some tragedies that can never be forgotten. Despite being nearly eight years since the cruise ship disappearance of George Smith, his family is still searching for answers as to what exactly happened on the night he vanished from the vessel.

Hoping to get some answers, Smith’s family wrote a letter to Royal Caribbean’s CEO, Richard D. Fain, on Christmas Eve regarding his disappearance from the Brilliance of the Seas and asking what could have possibly happened. Smith was on his honeymoon with his new bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he vanished from the vessel in July, 2005. The cruise line labeled the incident as an accident, which happens all too frequently. Cruise companies will try to avoid taking the blame for serious accidents, especially those involving passengers who go overboard. Since cruise lines are responsible for the safety of all those onboard their ships, if something happens to a passenger under their watch, they may be held responsible and liable for damages.

According to Smith’s family, there seems to be more to the disappearance than meets the eye. Blood was found in Smith’s cabin as well as on an overhang on the exterior of the ship. Four men who were last seen with Smith were suspected of either knowing of the circumstances surrounding his death or were believed to have somehow been involved, but no one was ever charged with the incident and Smith’s body was never found.

Last year, the Smith family’s attorney, Michael Jones, revealed a video shot aboard the vessel providing evidence that at least one of the suspects was involved in Smith’s disappearance. In the video, one of the men is heard saying “we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute.” However, Keith Fousek, an attorney for one of the men, said the video does not prove any foul play. The men maintain their innocence, but Smith’s family is not backing down.

Hoping that the holidays might in some way move the company to reveal any information they might have not made public, Smith’s family wrote the following in the letter to Fain:

“After seven and one half years, we still do not know who murdered George on your cruise liner. His murderer(s) remain at large. Your cruise ship, the floating crime scene, continues to hop from port to port carrying happy-go-lucky passengers seemingly unaware of the atrocities that were inflicted upon our son and brother on that very boat.”

“As you can imagine, the holidays are one of the most difficult times of year for our family,” they explained. “The loss of our son and brother is compounded by the lack of answers and justice for George. The expression “time heals all wounds” does not apply to our family whose wounds do not heal.”

This is just one of the many unsolved cruise ship disappearances that have taken place over the years. As with Smith’s case, anyone who has lost someone at sea while onboard a cruise vessel has the right to seek help with a maritime lawyer to protect their rights and obtain justice for their pain and suffering.

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