Two Carnival Cruise Passengers Fall Overboard in Australia

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

It seems as though there is just no way for Carnival Cruise Line to get out of the news these days. Between the several mechanical mishaps that have transpired in series since the Triumph vessel caught fire in February, to the many crimes and sexual assaults the “Fun Ship” has reported (and not reported) since the beginning of the year, there’s just no telling what maritime tragedy will be discovered next on a Carnival ship. Yet, as our cruise accident lawyers just reported on a passenger who went overboard from a Carnival Cruise Line ship and shockingly survived, Carnival has demonstrated yet again how little passenger safety is regarded as a priority.

As we speak, a search is underway for two missing cruise passengers who disappeared off the coast of New South Wales this morning from a Carnival ship. At this point, it’s difficult to express shock for any Carnival Corp.-related incidents because there seems to be a new accident every week. It’s hard to believe that in the wake of dozens of accidents caused by the liner’s negligence that another maritime tragedy would ensue; yet here we are again, struggling to understand how these cruise ship accidents continue to occur.

There haven’t been many details reported on the incident as of yet, but from news sources, we gather that the victims, a man and a woman, are believed to be a couple who were sailing onboard the Carnival Spirit. Both victims are Australian citizens from New South Wales state, and were discovered missing after the ship docked at Sydney’s Circular Quay to conclude a 10-day itinerary.

According to surveillance camera footage, the couple — a 30-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman whose names have not yet been released — fell from the ship’s mid deck Wednesday night, when the vessel was roughly 65 nautical miles off the coast of Forster, located roughly 185 miles north of Sydney.

Authorities are searching the waters from Sydney Harbour to Newcastle for the victims, retracing the cruise ship’s path. Meanwhile, investigators are reviewing footage from the ship’s cameras. Despite the fact that the Spirit has around 600 surveillance cameras, no one reported seeing the couple fall overboard.  This raises the question about who is surveilling the surveillance cameras. Why have a camera system if it is not going to be used.

Although it is rare for passengers who fall overboard to survive, Detective Superintendant Mark Hutchings, of the NSW Police Marine Area Command, believes there is a chance the couple may still be alive.

“It’s game on and we are going to be pulling out all stops to find these people,” said the officer.

But how exactly could two people have gone over the side of the ship without as much as one person noticing? The victims had even been traveling in a group of nine, and not one person noticed they were gone? It wasn’t until the vessel docked and passengers were disembarking that the cruise line realized the couple was missing.

“The guests in question were traveling with family and friends, and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night,” said Peter Taylor, spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines.

Following an Inside Edition report on Sarah Kirby, a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Destiny and survived to tell the tale of a negligent cruise line that waited two hours before rescuing her, Carnival has stated that standard missing person protocols were followed.

“The ship immediately initiated standard missing person procedures, including a full search of the vessel, as per protocol,” said the cruise line.

Yet, Carnival said the same thing in Kirby’s case, even though the victim was left to fend for herself in dark, shark-infested waters while the cruise line was busy “following protocol” and searching for her on the vessel – despite operators being told that she had gone overboard.

Something just doesn’t seem to add up with this story. According to police, authorities were not notified of the incident until roughly two hours after the ship docked. Could this be the beginning of a disappearing passenger cover-up?

Like most ships would do in the same situation, Carnival seems to be shrugging off the incident, diverting attention away from the missing passengers and criticism for the slew of other maritime accidents that have befallen the line, and focusing on the line’s positive statistics.

Ann Sherry, Carnival’s representative in the South Pacific region, said only two passengers had disappeared overboard from cruise ships in the South Pacific in the past five years. Unfortunately, she has failed to disclose the fact that since the year 2000, 50 victims have been reported missing from Carnival Cruise Line ships.

Sherry added that while the investigation is still underway, it does not seem as though foul play was a factor in the incident, but this wouldn’t be the first time a quarrel between passengers resulted in death.

We’ll keep you posted on the status of the investigation and any further developments, but it seems Carnival is doing a good job of keeping matters private and out of the public eye.

Our law firm has a belief that the understaffing and over-working of the crew on many vessels is leading to an increase in incidents related to the crew just being too tired to do a good job.

More on this to follow.