By Chabeli Herrera, The Miami Herald
A boat carrying 10 tourists from Royal Caribbean Cruises sank off the coast of Cozumel last week, marking the second accident in less than a month involving American cruise passengers on excursion.
According to multiple media outlets in Mexico, 10 cruise-ship passengers on a diving excursion were on the vessel Wednesday when it began taking on water about 15 minutes into the trip.
THE CRUISERS INVOLVED IN THE ACCIDENT WERE FROM TWO SHIPS THAT SAILED FROM MIAMI.
Passengers were instructed by crew to head to the front of the boat but then jumped into the water when the vessel began to sink. The Mexican Navy and other nearby vessels responded to the incident, helping to rescue all 10 passengers. None had serious injuries, Royal Caribbean Cruises spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said Monday.
She confirmed that all of the travelers involved were sailing with Royal Caribbean Cruises. Six were traveling on Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Equinox and four on Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas. Celebrity Equinox was on a five-night voyage to Key West, Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, and George Town, Grand Cayman. Navigator of the Seas was on a five-night sailing to Costa Maya and Cozumel. Both voyages sailed from Miami.
Video posted on YouTube shows people in the water clinging to the bow of the boat — the only part of the vessel still above water — as nearby ships pull the tourists aboard.
Thiago Koga, one of the travelers on the excursion, tweeted about the experience Wednesday, saying, “Today I did an excursion with @RoyalCaribbean to a dive trip at Cozumel. The dive boat sank and I lost everything (cell phone, wallet, wet passport, etc). Waiting to see how they will reimburse me. At least no death like the bus.”
Koga was referring to a deadly tour bus crash in the same region on Dec. 19, when 12 passengers died after a tour bus to Mayan ruins south of Tulum flipped on a two-way highway. Among those killed was a 78-year-old woman from Coconut Creek, Fanya Shamis; her daughter, 46-year-old Anna Behar; and her 11-year-old grandson, Daniel Behar.
Passengers involved in the tour bus crash were also sailing on two ships from Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises: Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas, from Fort Lauderdale, and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Equinox, from Miami.
UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE CERTAIN INHERENT RISKS THAT COME WITH USING FOREIGN EXCURSION PROVIDERS THAT SIMPLY DO NOT ADHERE TO THE SAME SAFETY STANDARDS AS IN THE U.S.
Michael Winkleman, lawyer with Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman
Experts typically recommend booking a shore excursion with a cruise line, instead of independently booking a tour at a port of call. Cruise lines have policies and procedures in place to vet their shore excursion providers, said Miami-based maritime lawyer, Michael Winkleman, of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman.
“Unfortunately, there are certain inherent risks that come with using foreign excursion providers that simply do not adhere to the same safety standards as in the U.S.,” he said.