Person Overboard From Holland America Line's Veendam?

HAL VeendamThis weekend we received inquiries from passengers who had been on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship about a passenger who apparently went overboard. Passengers indicated that the incident apparently occurred off the coast of Mexico on January 3, 2014 as the ship sailed back to San Diego. 

Here are two of the comments:

"Was on the MS Veendam (Holland America) 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise and a woman mysteriously fell or jumped off the top deck the early afternoon of day 6 (last Friday, Jan 3) off coast of Mexico (coming back to San Diego). She had to be dead (body floating face down in water), as we were sent to cabin for an hour. But no news was shared or online. Crew was working on top rail, which someone (the crew?) had disassembled even before the FBI showed up Sat morning to inspect before disembarkation. Do you have any info on this?  Strange that there hasn't been any news. Rumors were suicide, but I'm really wondering."

"On MS Veendam (HAL) (Jan. 3, 2014) when we had a man overboard called. We were ordered to our cabins but never offered an expiation as what happened. Only rumors that it was murder, suicide or accident . . . How can we find out the truth?"

Anyone with information please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Why is there no information about this overboard on the internet

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times

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Comments (48) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
littledickens - January 6, 2014 2:31 AM

I was on the cruise with my sister and her husband. Husband was having lunch when a lady started screaming that someone was climbing over their railing and then hanging by hands from the railing and then letting go. He jumped up to look but by that time she had dropped, hitting the tender boat quite a ways below, and then into the ocean. He saw her floating face down as the ship passed by. After retrieving her body a statement was made on the intercom that life saving efforts were being done however, since a helicopter did not come and whisk anyone away, and with all of the police that boarded the ship on our arrival, it is my belief that she did not survive. She was a small older woman.

Gary - January 6, 2014 6:04 AM

I believe thay we have to wait until the company starts and finish's it's investigation. Now, there should be a standard for each company and I do hope that the deceased family doesn't take this time to engage in unjust enrichment or even attempts to contemplate such actions.

Being the employer is not always easy. One doesn't know the mental state of each booked passenger.

I do believe the public cries out for more than a generic response, although. One is forthcoming. The public has to wait and see.

BMS Consulting

Michael Bauman - January 6, 2014 9:45 AM

I don't like that passengers were ordered back to their cabins after this event because in their absence the cruise line can scrub any incriminating evidence.

This is not an accusation; it's a declaration of dissatisfaction with procedures.

judi - January 6, 2014 9:49 AM

I was also onboard and must say that The Captain and the Cruise director handled this situation with much respect and kept the passengers calm.
although there was a elephant in the room for the rest of the cruise things kinda returned to normal
would like to know what happened and sincere condolences to the family

Gary 2 - January 6, 2014 11:11 AM

People reported that the person was seen dropping past the Lido Restaurant (deck 11) so the victim must have been above (deck 12-sport deck). After the victim was retrieved, the captain reported the medical staff was working on the victim. However, in San Diego, disembarkation was delayed because the FBI and Coroner were doing their jobs - so the victim was obviously dead

Lee - January 6, 2014 11:27 AM

We were on the Sports Deck (12) when the alarm sounded during lunch. The captain asked for the crew to go to their man overboard stations and for anyone who saw something to contact a crew member. We knew it wasn't a drill when we started turning around and saw the orange smoke marker from the port rail. The captain then asked for eyes on the water at and behind the marker. All of us on the rail were actively watching.

We were turned and heading south with the marker on the port side when someone yelled and pointed about one o'clock to starboard, some 500 yards behind the marker. As we approached, with tenders still launching, and some 20 minutes from the MOB signal, I saw the body floating face down. The victim was undeniably deceased. At this point the captain came on the loudspeaker to please respect the victim and the family and move to the opposite side of the ship during the retrieval procedure. After a few minutes and with limited cooperation from the guests, the captain asked everyone to their cabins. I was already on my way to meet my family and ensure we were all safe. We were there for maybe 45 minutes while the crew did a head count to determine who the missing person was.

The captain made an announcement that they were working on the victim and hoping for the best. The next announcement was the following morning in San Diego when he said that the FBI and the Medical Examiner were conducting their business before we could disembark.

Through second hand information I understand that she was on deck 12 with one leg over the rail when someone in the Sky Bar saw her and alerted those around her. My family was on 11 when the table next to them said they just saw someone fall past them.

I was deeply saddened by the event and offer her loved ones my sympathy. I feel the captain and crew acted professionally and respectfully to all aboard, and I understand that information must be disseminated cautiously. That said, I was hoping for more closure on the incident and have been searching the internet for more information.

Lori - January 6, 2014 12:03 PM

I was also on this cruise, my assumption for being ordered back to our rooms was so the crew could account for all passengers and identify who was missing (she may have been traveling alone). Our cabin personnel came twice to verify we were accounted for.
Frankly, it really is not any of our business - HAL owes the family any details that they know, not us passengers.
I did not see what happened but was present when she was found - it was heartbreaking and I send my condolences to her family.

Lori - January 6, 2014 1:54 PM

Lee and Lori thank you for your personal account as it brings out the other side of the story.
HAL seems to have shown a great deal of common sense with their reaction and tried to respect the family through this terrible event. Obviously they have a competent and compassionate leader that has prepared procedures and a practiced crew.

It is amazing how perception can change the story. Like the tiger and the lady.

I also think it is great that Jim has this venue for our benefit, thanks Jim.

KGTV - January 6, 2014 2:16 PM

KGTV 10news would like to speak to any passengers aboard the cruise ship when the woman went overboard. Please call our newsroom at 619.237.6380. Thank you.

ANON - January 6, 2014 3:58 PM

As witness to the entire incident I will clear up speculation. However out of respect for the family details will not be discussed.

The woman climbed out from her balcony on deck 9, port side forward. The entire incident from first sighting to man overboard lasted between 15-20 seconds. The Captain and crew responded with utmost urgency and professionalism in handling this tragic event.

Any information otherwise is incorrect.

Pati W. - January 6, 2014 5:07 PM

I was also on this cruise. It was a sad event and I cannot imagine what kind of pain this woman must have been in to end her life in this manner. One thing not mentioned yet by others is that when the captain asked people NOT to go to the side that they were trying to recover the body on, passengers FLOCKED to that side of the boat. Some even had small children with them. This upset me greatly and I was very relieved when the captain instructed everyone to return to their cabins immediately. Why would anyone want to have that vision in their memories or even worse in the minds of their small children? The captain and crew handled the situation very professionally. I don't believe there was anything incriminating to "cover up" as previously stated. It was a traumatic event for everyone on that ship.

Lee - January 6, 2014 5:52 PM

Anon,
I am sorry you had to witness that. As I said, my information on the details as to how the person went overboard was second hand.

To be clear. The interval between man overboard and the alarm sounding was seconds, but the entire incident includes our reversing course and sighting and recovery of the victim, and occurred as I described. Those of us on the rail were participating to help locate a SURVIVOR.

We passengers were all saddened and concerned for this individual and her loved ones and I believe I speak for most when I say that I have no desire for family details or any invasion of privacy. The incident, however, did become our business as we were on board and left to speculate on the cause. Those who truly felt otherwise wouldn't be searching the internet and posting comments.

I too, am grateful for this venue to help sort things out.

kathleen willett - January 6, 2014 6:13 PM

WE were also on the ship with 3 children and it was a very scary thing to hear. All parents were searching for their children. I feel the captain did a wonderful job of keeping us informed and calm. I understand why we had to go back to the room so all people could be accounted for. The crew and captain were very respectful to the victim. It was so very sad and I feel for her family and I feel for the captain of the ship.

Jim - January 6, 2014 6:46 PM

My mother in law was also on the Veendam. She and her friend came back very upset. Somehow they had reached the conclusion that it was a little girl who fell overboard. As tragic as the suicide was, a child falling is much harder to deal with. The lack of information lead to incorrect and distressing miss-information.

I could find no reports on it anywhere, so I was unable to provide her with the facts. Cruise Critic kills threads about it soon after they're posted.

I've never seen a black out like this for something, that unfortunately, is not terribly uncommon.

valerie - January 6, 2014 7:06 PM

Unclear if Mr. Bauman was on the ship from the wording in his post. I was on the ship, and saw all the folks flocking to look at the body to starboard. Lee, Judi, Pati, and Lori all make compelling arguments for why we should have been in our cabins. we may have been impeding the crew from doing their jobs, and we CERTAINLY were impeding the crew from discovering quickly if a passenger was missing. I think the crew did an exemplary job.

alex - January 6, 2014 9:00 PM

I was also on this cruise and was eating lunch in the pinnacle with my family when the alarm went off, I thought that the captain and crew did a very good job at keeping everybody calm for the whole event. At first everyone was sent to look for her, crew and passengers, there were probably ten announcements over the course of the event, one of them said to help look, then all of a sudden they found her and told everyone to look away or go the the other side of the ship. I was surprised how long it took to found her, which was probably about 30 minutes. But I'm glad we went to our rooms instead of going to our mustard stations

Julie - January 6, 2014 9:01 PM

Thank you for the post, Jim. As a passenger that witnessed part of the discovery I do feel entitled to an explanation. While the crew seemed to handle this professionally, this was indeed a disturbing event. An explanation did not have to include the details, but may have at least provided some closure for at least those humans who were traumatized by "the incident" (to which it was referred by the captain). To carry on like nothing happened--on ship and in the media--was and continues to be even more disturbing.

Giggsy - January 6, 2014 10:48 PM

I was on the ship with extended family. When the alarm sounded I tried to remain calm but truly was in a panic looking for my teen age children and relatives for about 15 minutes... Then we were asked to go back to our rooms where unbeknownst to the adults, my kids and nephews watched the recovery of the body from the ocean, directly out their stateroom window... a friend asked me upon my return if Holland America offered any kind of counseling before our family disembarked the ship - (not that I'm aware of). Some type of closure would be nice. So far this website is the only place I've seen information about the incident and I'm glad for it...

Mike - January 6, 2014 10:53 PM

10 News in San Diego reported that it was an 88 year old woman from Canada. The coroner called it a suicide. They said she was seen climbing over her balcony, but may have changed her mind and was turning around.

I was on the 12th floor in the crows nest and the post from Lee describes exactly what I saw too. The 20+ minutes it took to turn the ship around and get back to the location were unbearable. I though the crew was very respectful and did everything the way it should be done.

When they announced that we could leave our rooms after the head count, I went back to the 12th floor and saw the crew removing the top section of the railing. That is something I still don't understand.

Karen - January 6, 2014 11:15 PM

My daughters and I were having lunch in the dining room when we heard the alarm. Moments after we returned to our cabin for a passenger count we heard the crew yelling frantically. The missing passenger was identified as a women about ten cabins down from ours port side on the 9th deck. The tinder just to the right and below our cabin was covered with the poor women's blood. I am sure it had to remain there pending an investigation. Just the thought of this has kept me up at night. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and to the passengers who actually witnessed the incident. Thank you for your posts to help put closure to this tragedy. I know this will be my last HAL cruise.

Former HAL passenger - January 7, 2014 2:35 PM

Who was the captain on the Veendam for this cruise?

Ellen Sharpe - January 7, 2014 6:47 PM

A lady on cruise critic( who was not aboard) stated that passengers were asked not to talk about the incident by the captain and gave this as one reason for requesting the threads be removed. I know somebody aboard who stated they did not hear such an announcement. Can anyone else who was aboard please verify for me whether this request was made? Thanks

Former HAL passenger - January 7, 2014 8:42 PM

As a passenger on this same cruise in 2010 on board the Oosterdam, the captain and crew acted very irresponsibly in an incident involving my family. I was just curious if it was the same captain.

Ellen - January 7, 2014 9:11 PM

According to Cruise Critic it was Captain Bos.

Former HAL passenger - January 7, 2014 10:21 PM

It was not the same captain, thank goodness. I hope HAL doesn't have more captains like Jeroen Baijens. Hopefully, he's no longer a captain of ANY ship!

Jean - January 8, 2014 2:34 AM

My Family and I were in the library when the alarm sound. We all believe that the Captain and crew members handled the situation in the best possible way. They immediately took action and made a good decision by askng us to go to our staterooms while they resolved the situation. It is very sad to find out this tragic can happen. However, it is also true that the victim made the decision single-handedly. Our condolences to her family.. R.I.P

valerie - January 8, 2014 10:41 AM

the longer i think on this the more disturbed I get by Anon's comments. i read in the ABC10 news out of san diego that an anonymous witness (the same one?) says that the unfortunate lady climbed over her 9th floor railing and then tried to turn around but slipped and fell. since the witness saw that clearly what the lady was doing, was he either in her stateroom, or was he leaning pretty far over a rail himself??? - since the balconies on deck 9 are flush with the boat's sides. just asking

Bob Greene - January 8, 2014 11:30 AM

Thanks Jim for this form. Being a small part of this story I needed to know the facts.

valerie - January 8, 2014 11:38 AM

the longer i think on this the more disturbed I get by Anon's comments. i read in the ABC10 news out of san diego that an anonymous witness (the same one?) says that the unfortunate lady climbed over her 9th floor railing and then tried to turn around but slipped and fell. since the witness saw that clearly what the lady was doing, was he either in her stateroom, or was he leaning pretty far over a rail himself??? - since the balconies on deck 9 are flush with the boat's sides. just asking

Vandeem Passenger - January 8, 2014 1:01 PM

@Ellen Sharpe, No request was made by the Captain or any crew of the general population to not talk about this, the only request that was made was to not look while they were performing the recovery in the water and then to return to our cabin

Ellen - January 8, 2014 1:21 PM

Thanks for clarifying that-on a cruise critic post a passenger is adamant that people were asked not to speak about it online yet you are the second person to report to me that this was not what you heard.Interesting how people on the same ship hear or understand an announcement.

Skip - January 8, 2014 5:02 PM

A member of my family as well noticed and questioned the missing top wood railing on the starboard side of the 12th deck(I read that the incident took place on the port side). I explained that we had noticed before the incident as we were walking to lunch that crew members were carrying the top railing away probably to refinish it so this was not connected to the incident.(where the top wood railing was missing was securely protected by a temporary rope)

Nancy Maloty - January 8, 2014 5:05 PM

I was also on this cruise and think about this traggic incident often. I suspect if we had a little information, for closure, it would be of help. The rescue is now our memory.

Karen - January 8, 2014 7:17 PM

Lee describes the events very well. I was on the Lido deck (forward outside portion) when the incident happened. All of a sudden I saw everyone running to the edge of the deck to look over. I figured a whale was breaching so I rushed over to look. Then I saw the smoke marker and almost immediately the alarm sounded. The captain came on the loud speaker to let us know that sound indicated "Man overboard". I was shocked! After a few minutes I went to the inside part of the Lido deck where food is served. There I saw the lifeboat recovering the body. My biggest fear is that the woman in the water was the woman who joined me for breakfast that very morning. The woman I had breakfast with mentioned that she was Canadian and in her 80's. She was wearing capris and a blueish top as I recall. She mentioned only being able to see out of one eye. Does anyone know whether the passenger who died had any vision issues? Was she traveling with anyone else?

Rolf - January 9, 2014 11:41 AM

My Sister and Mother and Sister-in-law were on the lido deck restaurant in the seating area that hangs out from the ship and witnessed the entire event. The elderly lady climbed out over her balcony and was facing out towards the sea. While on the outside of the railing she attempted to turn around and face the ship and that's when she lost her grasp and fell, hitting one of the tender boats, on the way down into the water. I commend the Captain and Crew for the professional manner in which they handled this difficult situation. With respect to the Captain asking the passengers not to talk about the event, what he said was to please respect the victim, and not tweet pictures or post photos on facebook immediately, so that this woman's family didn't see it on facebook before they could be notified by officials. Once again, I commend the Captain for his skill in handling this situation. I can't help but wonder what was going on in this poor woman's life, that would cause her take such grave action.

Rick - January 9, 2014 11:43 AM

I'm 6'2" and there is no way I could accidentally fall over the rail unless I intentionally put myself on it and lost my balance. This person's actions were intentional.

As you can tell, many of the reports here are rumors because of the conflicting information. We heard person who fell was a woman wearing a green bathing suit or was in all white. We heard she went off the 12th Floor Sport deck, the 10th floor balcony, and the 9th floor balcony and hit one of the lifeboats on the way down. I think some passengers were making up their own stories.

It was actually good that they sent us back to our cabin's for a head count. We were part of a big party and it we accounted for everyone quickly. It was the folks that lingered or totally ignored the request that kept the rest of us waiting in our cabins.

I saw a life preserver in the water with a blinking beacon and orange smoke flare attached from the Lido buffet. This was around the same time as the "man overboard" horn signal was given. From what I could tell, the crew acted very quickly.

The ship never stopped, but rather slowed down to make the sharp turn back immediately. A sharp turn at 20 mph would of been way too fast.

Robin - January 9, 2014 11:47 AM

Karen, I believe the woman you had breakfast with, was with us on disembarkation. She was Canadian, had on a light blue windbreaker, spoke with a heavy accent, and wore a button on her lapel, that read low vision. She was traveling alone.

There was another woman traveling alone, who had vision problems, she would tilt her head to see, as if she was pointing with her eye. I never saw her again, I felt perhaps it was her, but some of my family stated they saw her at disembarkation.

Zach - January 9, 2014 1:06 PM

I witnessed crew members carrying 2 wood railing sections down the stairs (approx 10 to 12 ft in length)... I did not think anything of it until reading the above posts. Captain & crew did indeed handle the situation very well. Although, Holland America is very prompt sending us the post cruise survey via email... It would be nice if they sent an explanation of the event as well. Rather than us having to search the Internet trying to find answers & several different stories, not knowing which one is actually true..

Susan - January 10, 2014 11:30 AM

@Ellen, I was on board. After the victim was on board, the captain stated the medical team was currently working on the victim. At that time he requested for the victim's privacy, and the sake of the family, "please do not go all over the internet posting about this incident." then he named a few media sites like Twitter, email, and Facebook. Then he thanked us for our cooperation during this very unfortunate event.

Pati W. - January 10, 2014 12:41 PM

I also remember that just as we were docking in San Diego the captain asked the passengers not to post any footage of the incident on u-tube or to contact any paparazzi about this incident out of respect for the victim and their family. One of the employees in the spa told me that she has been on board when this type of thing has happened before and that this was absolutely the quickest time they have recovered anyone. I also agree that there is no way that anyone could have fallen off the ship by accident. There would be no way they could have provided counseling for all of the people on the ship, but it is something that still haunts me. I just can't imagine how much pain that woman must have been in to do such a drastic thing.

Lee - January 10, 2014 1:29 PM

Thank you, Rolf, for your sad but eloquent accounting of the overboard, and accurate description of the captains request for self censorship in the social media. This comment board has been very helpful. My only criticism of Holland America is that they had no part in this process.

Unknown - January 10, 2014 9:41 PM

To those who wish to discuss this further , please email me in private. I am trying to find out more details about this event. Could it have been an accident but covered up by the cruise line ? I really want to speak to anyone that witnessed this event . Please email
At seeb_14@hotmail.com thank you

Liz - January 11, 2014 7:52 PM

As cabin neighbors of the deceased my family and I heard her make negative comments prior to Friday. We believe she is in a better place and resting in peace. Our condolences to her family and friends. The Veendam's Captain, crew and FBI were professional and respectful.

Dean - January 13, 2014 2:30 AM

Liz, can you email me at dean.wilde@alltradeservices.ca

ANON - January 14, 2014 4:18 AM

@ Valerie. Yes the un-named comments quoted on ABC 10 and in the Union Tribune in San Diego were from me. It also appears I was seated at the table next to Rolf's family. They were one table closer to the forward facing window.

I wish to reiterate my commendation of the crew in handling the tragic events in an expediant and caring manner. While some may like a full detailed account, perhaps its best we think of her entire family ahead of one's own curiosity and let it go.

Connor - January 14, 2014 1:56 PM

I'll give my account of how I remembered it.
*I personally did not see the woman fall, or see her in the water. *

I was in Lido eating lunch with my family right next to the window. I recall people running from the pool area, through Lido, and out to the back deck; as well as people just running to the windows in Lido. I had no idea what had just happened, but just thought that people were looking at sea life. But then, over the intercom, came the "Man Overboard" call.

Everybody ran to look out the windows, and people were saying that it was a lady in a green bathing suit. From my point of view, I could not see anything, but I was able to see the flare that was shot out, very timely, in order to mark the area where they thought she was. If I recall correctly, I believe that there was also a buoy that was out in the water (that I think was shot out with the flare?) so that the person who went overboard would be able to grasp it until help came.

Overall, I think that the crew handled this very well--in that they sent everybody to their rooms to do a headcount. But, one thing that I don't understand is why we took so long to turn around and then send out the lifeboats. There are probably explanations for why this was necessary, but I still think that we could have gotten to the person overboard sooner, had we just sent out the lifeboats right away instead of taking so long to turn around.

My deepest condolences to the family.

Don - January 17, 2014 8:14 PM

I was there,and The situation was handled by the Captain and crew with the highest respect and profession.
A 70,000 ton ship cannot stop nor turn like a car. Again the Captain and HAL crew were very professional.

Family Insider - March 16, 2014 2:31 AM

From an insider on the situation I found out the cruise line billed the womans credit card $2400 for the 'recovery' services, several months later the charges were refunded.

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