Oasis of the Seas Overboard Accident Raises Questions Over Cruise Ship Safety and Cruise Accident Reporting

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, overboard passenger, cruise ship safety, maritime attorneysIn our last blog, we discussed the strange cruise ship overboard accident that has made headlines across the nation. A Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas passenger mysteriously fell overboard last week and was rescued by the Disney Magic. But there are several questions left unanswered.

Witnesses aboard the ship explain that several passengers heard victim while he was in the water crying out for help. After passengers spotted him, the crew of the Disney Magic began a rescue mission. Passengers were able to throw life vessels out to the victim, identified as 22-year-old Frank Jade, and he was subsequently taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

What’s strange about the incident is that the victim has no recollection about how he fell into the sea. Fortunately – and quite shockingly – he suffered no major injuries as a result of the accident, but our maritime attorneys are left wondering about the real details surrounding the incident and how this passenger could have even survived in the water for so long. If he has no memory of falling, it could mean he lost consciousness. But if the victim was unconscious, how did he stay afloat? Something just doesn’t seem right.

Unfortunately, cases where passengers fall overboard are actually quite common. While foul play is sometimes a factor, in many cases, passengers fall overboard from cruise ships due to drunkenness or because railings aren’t tall enough. Other times, passengers jump on purpose, such as the case of the Carnival Cruise Line passenger, who decided it would be funny to record himself diving over the side of the Carnival Glory ship as it was approaching the port of Grand Turk. So what could have happened to cause the accident in the first place?

Although he has no recollection of the incident, which is extremely odd in and of itself, according to Jade, he left his cabin early in the morning prior to falling from the vessel. No one aboard Oasis of the Seas noticed he had fallen into the water. Royal Caribbean apparently has video of the incident, but has declined to release it. This raises a whole new set of questions. Is Royal trying to hide something? Did the passenger get attacked? Was Royal negligent in providing a safe shipboard environment, which ultimately contributed to the accident? And probably most important of all: Why haven’t all cruise ships installed man overboard detection technology?

Had Oasis of the Seas been equipped with overboard passenger radar technology, the ship’s crew would have become aware of the situation the instant the passenger fell and faster rescue could have been initiated. Jade is lucky to be alive, but he is a rare exception. The vast majority of cruise passengers who fall overboard, sadly, do not survive. The entire fiasco highlights the lack of safety and emergency protocols across the cruise industry as a whole. Until more standard detection equipment is put in place, these frightening accidents will likely continue to be common occurrences.

Our maritime attorneys will continue to report on this strange overboard survival tale, but for now, questions continue to arise and answers have yet to be provided.