Just last week, we discussed a rather disturbing video we saw regarding a Carnival Cruise Line passenger who purposefully jumped overboard from the ship as it approached the port of Grand Turk. We say disturbing because there have been 239 cruise passenger overboard accidents in the past decade alone, and this individual’s choice to jump ship makes a mockery out of those victims’ suffering – along with their families’ suffering. This man is lucky to be alive, as it is a rare few that actually survive falling overboard. We don’t know what got into him. Maybe he thought it was funny? Maybe he just wasn’t thinking? Either way, it was a careless decision – and careless is putting it lightly.
Overboard accidents are no laughing matter. Hundreds of people have lost their lives after falling overboard – and many of these accidents remain unsolved cruise passenger disappearance crimes and mysteries to this date. Purposefully jumping off the ship is an extremely dangerous thing to do. If you feel the urge to jump, jump into the pool on your ship, or jump up and down on your stateroom’s bed. Jumping 60 feet off a ship into waters that you have no idea what’s lurking within is extremely reckless and will most likely result in a fatality.
But while one person is busy poking fun at jumping overboard, the family of one actual overboard victim is now grieving for the loss of their loved one. Our maritime lawyers were saddened to learn that the search for a cruise passenger who fell from a Princess Cruises ship was called off.
The victim, an 84-year-old man, went overboard from the Sun Princess cruise ship near the coast of Sydney, Australia at the end of a New Zealand itinerary. Princess was able to obtain footage that captured the entire accident, showing the victim falling roughly 82 feet into rough waters below at around 8:40 PM Monday. According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, it is unlikely the elderly passenger survived the fall, much less the choppy conditions at sea.
We do not know as of yet exactly what caused the elderly man to go overboard, or how long it took for the Sun Princess crew to even acknowledge the passenger was missing, but according to the cruise liner’s statement, the ship was thoroughly checked before it was turned around to retrace its path along the coast of Sydney.
Last year around this time, another elderly passenger went missing from the same ship while it was sailing near the northern Australian coast. Could the two overboard accidents have something in common? Is the ship understaffed? Is the security or surveillance subpar? These are all questions that need to be addressed because accidents can – and do happen – on the high seas, but when a pattern starts to develop, that’s when cruise lines need to step back and take a closer look at what they might be doing wrong and what they could do to improve safety policies so as to reduce the chances of similar accidents in the future.