A member of Cruise Critic sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is commenting that a crew member apparently went overboard from the cruise ship last night. There is a suggestion by those on the cruise ship that the crew member is a waiter and may have jumped.
We reported earlier this year on two other crew members who jumped from Royal Caribbean cruise ships. On December 31, 2009 we posted the article " Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard" involving an apparent suicide of Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara who jumped from the Monarch of the Seas. Her case involved allegations that her husband, Ankit Delal, also working on the cruise ship, physically and emotionally abused her.
In March, another crew member jumped from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. You can read about that incident here: "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas. We reported that the Master of the cruise ship responded quickly; however, the crew member (an employee of Park West Gallery) did not survive - "Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard."
It is currently unknown whether the crew member was rescued. 139 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years, according to Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site.
We will update the article as more information becomes available. Were you on the cruise or have information to share? Please leave a comment below.
May 6, 2010 Update:
FoxNews.com is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a search for the 26 year old crew member 138 miles north of the coastal town of Isabela, Puerto Rico.
Royal Caribbean's PR spokesperson Cynthia Martinez is quoted as saying that an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television tapes (CCTV) reveals the crew member lowering himself over the side of the cruise ship around 8:15 p.m. last night. However, a passenger commenting on the Cruise Critic web sites indicates that the ship did not turn to search for the crew members until around 10:20 p.m. - around two hours later.
These types of incidents reveal security deficiencies on cruise ships. If a crew member can lower himself over the rail and into the water without being spotted by security or detected by cameras, a terrorist can just as easily come over the rail and onto the ship without being detected.
Does anyone on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships monitor the exterior cameras?
We have reported on this problem on other Royal Caribbean overboards - "Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security? "
May 7, 2010 Update - Search begins:
The Coast Guard News reports that Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan received a call at approximately 9:15 p.m. Wednesday from the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas reporting the incident.
Coast Guard rescue crews then began searching for the man overboard. The Coast Guard deployed a HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami, a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, and Coast Guard Cutters Matinicus and Chincoteague (110-foot patrol boats) homeported in San Juan.
May 7, 2010 Update - Comments by family:
The brother and sister of the crew member have left comments below, seeking information and an explanation regarding what happened. We hope that the cruise line will provide the necessary information and assistance. Condolences to the Buddaru Family.
May 8, 2010 Update - Search ends:
According to the Daily Sun newspaper in Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the crew member yesterday morning at "about 7 a.m.” A Coast Guard spokesperson said "regrettably we did not find him alive."
May 8, 2010 - Crew member identified:
A newspaper Defi Media Group is reporting that the Royal Caribbean crew member is Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru, age 26, whose family lives on the island of Mauritius. The newspaper suggests that he worked as a bartender on the cruise ship, although most comments indicate that he was a waiter or assistant waiter. His sister, Anuradha, stated that she spoke to him "on the telephone Wednesday morning. It seemed normal. He had no personal problem."
May 9 Update - Passengers applaud Master and crew:
Passengers aboard the cruise ship are commenting that the cruise ship responded promptly and the crew handled themselves profesionally during this difficult experience.
A newspaper in Mauritius LexPress.mu reports that Mr. Buddaru had worked for three years for Royal Caribbean.
May 10, 2010 Update:
Defi Media in Mauritius has an article today on Mr. Buddaru's disappearance, and incudes a photograph (above right) of the young man.
May 11, 2010 Update:
A newspaper in the cruise ship's home port in New Jersey is reporting that the FBI is investigating the incident. The article also mentions that crew members reported Mr. Buddaru missing around 8:40 p.m. The Coast Guard issued a statement that they were notified around 9:15 p.m. The CCTV images apparently show the crew member going overboard at 8:13 p.m.
Photo of Explorer of the Seas Luke Redmond's Fickr photostream
Photograph of Ms. Buddaru DefiMedia Mauritius