Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Newspapers in India are reporting that a young man working as a crew member on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship disappeared at sea.

"Disappearances" at sea have been a regular occurrence on Royal Caribbean cruise ships over the past several years.   

The Times of India ("Did 'Missing' Ship Staffer End Life?") and the Hindustan Times ("Chef Commits Suicide in U.S., Mom Cries Foul") report that 27 year old Sandip Surwade went missing from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship on February 18th in waters near Aruba.

Sandip Surawade - Missing - Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the SeasThe Indian newspapers report that Mr. Surwade left India for work on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in June of last year.  On February 20th of this year, a representative from the local hiring agency in India came to Mr. Surwade's home in Bara Bungalow, Thane (north of Mumbai) and told his family that he was "missing."  The hiring agency gave the family a telephone number and e-mail address of Dr. Fabio Acevedo, a supervisor in the medical crew department of the cruise line.

Later, the cruise line told the family that their son committed suicide by jumping off the cruise ship around 9:00 p.m. on February 18th.  The cruise line claims that Mr. Surwade left a letter which mentions the name of a female crew member with whom Mr. Surwade was allegedly involved, notwithstanding that he was reportedly engaged to be married in April. The letter purportedly states that his supervisors were troubling him and the woman due to their relationship. 

His family doubts the authenticity of the letter which, according to the newspaper articles, was written in chaste Hindi, a language with which he not particularly familiar. The family tells the newspapers that Royal Caribbean and the local agent for the cruise line has "stonewalled" them. 

The cruise line, however, states that there are closed circuit video tapes documenting the overboard and an eye witness who allegedly confirms that Mr. Surwade jumped from the ship.  

What is one to make of this mess?  The family suspects foul play.  If another crew member saw him jump, why did the cruise line first tell the family that their son was "missing" and then mention "suicide" later?  Why did it take the cruise line 2 days to tell the family?

Adding to the confusion is that the first public account of this incident is in a newspaper in Aruba, Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crew Memberindicating that it was a passenger who committed suicide.  Another newspaper in Aruba indicates that the cruise ship first reported the incident around 11:00 p.m. on February 18th which, if true, would be 2 hours after the overboard.  Helicopters and a coast guard cutter from Aruba searched for 4 hours before ending the search with intentions of searching again at day light.      

An online website, "Cruise Bruise," speculates wildly that Mr. Surwade's disappearance may have been a drug-related murder.  As we reported,  Royal Caribbean crew members were smuggling large quantities of cocaine from South America aboard this cruise ship and there was a drug bust on the Grandeur of the Seas ship a few days later when the ship reached Montego Bay.  However, there is no indication that Mr. Sandip was involved in drug smuggling or a victim of violence by drug smugglers, and at this point there is no connection between his disappearance and the drug bust as suggested by others.

Nonetheless, we are  suspicious of most anything this cruise line says.  It suffers from a lack of transparency and the most unexplained disappearances and deaths of any cruise line. 

Did this crew member really commit suicide, which is the cruise line's favorite excuse?  Consider how cruise lines use the "suicide defense" as a public relations tool -  "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Also consider in the last year:

January 6. 2011: Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

November 30, 2010: Death of a Young Jamaican Cook on the Mega Ship Oasis of the Seas 

May 24, 2010: Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

May 5, 2010: Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

March 22, 2010: "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

January 4, 2010: 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?

Sandip Surawade - Overboard - Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the SeasJanuary 1, 2010:  Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

Determining the cause of cruise ship overboards and mysterious deaths is the role of experts - the F.B.I., sometimes the U.S. Coast Guard, or other law enforcement authorities - not the cruise lines' PR departments.   

But this case raises a more profound question.  Who investigates the circumstances of a crew member from India who goes overboard into waters around Aruba from a cruise ship flagged in the Bahamas and operated by a cruise line incorporated in Liberia?

This is a no man's land, where there are no clear answers - only self-serving statements by a cruise line with a reputation of being less than honest. 

 

Photo credits: 

Photographs   24ORA.com

Overboard drawing     CruelKev2's blog regarding overboard cruise passengers 

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Suzanne - March 11, 2011 11:22 AM

I hate to say it, but that was the first thing I thought of knowing all the drug busts going on ... maybe he had too much information? The letter is most suspicious. That said, knowing the crew conditions (low wages, close living quarters, alcohol abuse, numerous sexual partners), cruise lines can easily blame a death on a suicide with not too many people blinking an eye, except for the families of course. They instinctively know the truth.

IBB Solicitors - March 21, 2011 5:46 AM

This is a very interesting article. There are so many different stories going around, it must be terrible for the family. There are so many different reasons that he could have disappeared, and I believe that sooner or later the cruise ship company is going to have to come forward with the real story.

Johann - March 26, 2011 8:32 AM

Its quite difficult to find fault that the officers of the rccl ship only found out at 11pm about the incident.. the cctv cameras are not manned at all times.. And it depends on the type of eye witness report.. On the other hand.. Low wages for people in the USA and uk and some other countries are not seen as so low in other countries.. And let's face it.. You have no expenses whilst working on the ship.. So its a good source of saving cash if. You wanted to..

l - April 4, 2011 2:50 AM

I was working in that ship when that happend, i remember that i hear the man overvoard code at 8:20, because i see the time at that moment, and i have to tell that the capitan stop the ship ike 10 minutes after that, and also the first boats going down to search went down almost 1 hour after they give the man overvoard code, about the letter people said that he give it to a friend, and he show the letter to his manager, and he take it from the cooker, and after that no one saw the letter agaain, but poeple said that he was blaming the cheff because he gives to much hard time to him..... will never know what really happend.

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