Attorney: Cruise ship passenger ‘fell over’ after dispute with staff

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

MIAMI (WSVN) — A day after a cruise ship passenger plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, an attorney representing his husband said the couple was discriminated against by the ocean liner’s staff, leading to an altercation that ended with the victim falling off his cabin balcony, an account the cruise line has denied.

Cellphone video captured the chilling moments 35-year-old Bernardo Albaz held on for dear life on the side of the Oasis of the Seas before falling to his death, Friday. Albaz and his husband Eric were on board the Royal Caribbean ship to celebrate Eric’s birthday when, attorney Michael Winkleman said, things took a turn for the worse. “There were crew members that made anti-gay remarks against this legally married gay couple, including saying things like, ‘Hi, Lipstick,’ and repeatedly saying it over and over to them,” Winkleman said.

Winkleman said Albaz, who had consumed alcohol prior to the incident, got very upset by these comments, and eventually an altercation broke out between his client and the Royal Caribbean staff. “The surviving husband, Eric, was not there at the time. He had gone back to the room to rest,” said Winkleman. “It is my understanding, and I’m looking forward to getting more information, that there was a big altercation at the Solarium Bar on the Oasis of the Seas.”

Once back in the room with his husband, security personnel showed up and another scuffle allegedly broke out between Albaz and the employees. “There was an altercation in the room involving Royal Caribbean security. He fell overboard, and Royal Caribbean was right there on the scene as he fell in,” said Winkleman.

Cruise line officials painted a different picture, originally saying Albaz intentionally jumped off the ship. They released a statement to 7News that reads in part, “Our onboard security team responded to the guest’s stateroom after a neighboring guest complained about a domestic dispute on the guest’s balcony. Our staff did not have a physical altercation with the guest and were unable to prevent his jumping from the stateroom balcony.”

Winkleman, however, sustained his client’s version of events is what really happened inside their cabin. “What we have is not a suicide. Bernardo did not jump. Bernardo fell over,” he said.

It remains unclear whether Albaz’s husband will file a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search for Albaz on Saturday.

Posted: Nov 07, 2015 via WSVN.com