The Associated Press and an Italian newspaper are reporting that a crew member employed by Princess Cruises aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship "disappeared" on either November 25th or 26th.
The AP article is entitled "Italian Chef Missing at Sea on Caribbean Cruise."
The Italian newspaper Leggo Cronaca's article is entitled "GIALLO SU NAVE DA CROCIERA SCOMPARE CUOCO ITALIANO." (Italian Chef Disappears on Cruise Ship.)
The Princess Cruises crew member is identified as Angelo Faliva, age 31. Mr. Faliva is employed by the cruise line as a sous chef.
Conflicting Accounts of When & Where Crew Member "Disappeared"
The AP reports that there are different accounts regarding when and where crew member Faliva was last seen as the Coral Princess sailed from Aruba to Cartagena, Colombia, between Nov. 25 and 26.
Princess Cruises PR person Julie Benson said Faliva was last seen on a deck at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, when he spoke with another crew member as the ship neared Cartagena.
According to the AP, Mr. Faliva's family said they had been told that he had unexpectedly walked out of the ship's galley at about 8:15 p.m. the night before, while he was working the dinner shift, and never returned and hadn't been seen since.
The Faliva family said it was alerted Thursday that he had been reported missing and that a life preserver was also missing, with its nighttime illumination flares torn off and left aboard the ship.
"He surely didn't jump off. It wasn't suicide," his sister Chiara Faliva told the AP from the family's home in Cremona. "We think there was an accident or a homicide."
The Coral Princess left South Florida November 23rd and will arrive in Los Angeles on December 7th at which time the FBI may board the cruise ship.
No Information From Cruise Line PR Department
As expected, Princess PR department claims that Mr. Faliva's cabin had been sealed and the cruise ship was searched. Princess Cruises also claims that it reviewed the closed circuit television ("CCTV") footage but there is no video of a crew member going overboard.
"Obviously, we're very concerned," Princess' PR representative Julie Benson (left) said. "This is highly unusual and clearly we are concerned for his safety. It very well may be that he went overboard, but we don't know that for a fact."
The AP reports that the commander of the Colombian Coast Guard station in Cartagena, Lt. Javier Sanchez, said officials there received a report from the Coral Princess at 10 a.m. Thursday that one of the cooks had last been seen the night before between 7-8 p.m. when the ship was navigating Colombian waters near La Guajira.
But like the Princess spokeswoman, he too said the Coast Guard received word from the ship later Thursday that a person had seen the chef at about 6 a.m. Thursday morning.
Crew Member Employed Since 2006
According to the AP, Mr. Faliva's sister said her brother had been working for Princess Cruises since 2006 and that this was his third six-month tour with the line. He was a sous chef in the ship's Italian restaurant "Sabatini's."
She said she had received an e-mail from her brother the day before he went missing, and he reported that everything was going well. She said the captain had told the family that her brother had last been seen in the kitchen preparing dinner.
"He left quickly without saying anything to anyone and left the kitchen," she said. "From that point on, they don't know anything."
Over 10 People "Disappear" from Cruise Ships a Year
Contrary to the comments by Princess Cruises' PR department, "missing" passengers and crew members are not "highly unusual." Over 125 people have gone overboard in the last nine years, according to a Canadian Professor who tracks cruise "disappearances." 22 overboards have been documented for this year alone. The majority of the disappearances have been from the Carnival owned cruise ships. Princess is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corporation.
One of the problems with "disappearances" of passengers and crew members is that the FBI does not board the cruise ship until the end of the cruise. This leaves preservation of the scene of the disappearance to the cruise lines, which are often motivated by their own legal interests and marketing image.
Why No CCTV Images?
There is often an issue why the cruise lines are unable to locate CCTV images of the missing crew member or passenger. Mr. Faliva should have been recorded walking in and around the cruise ship and, if he went overboard, on the deck. The technology has long existed to record passenger and crew overboards.
There is also technology available for the bridge to be notified when there is an overboard situation on a cruise ship. We have written about this technology in a prior blog " Update on Missing Passenger From Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess."
This cruise ship has a web cam for entertainment purposes for the public, such as the image recorded today from Coral Princess' bridge cam at 2:00 p.m. (Los Angeles time). Princess Cruises has not offered an explanation regarding how someone can "disappear" without a trace of evidence.
The Falavi family deserves an explanation regarding what CCTV images exist of their brother and son on the cruise ship. They should also receive the statements from the security personnel and other crew members regarding the circumstances surrounding Mr. Falavi's disappearance.
We have written about cruise "disappearances" in the past. For example "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea. There is often a tendency of the cruise lines' PR departments to blame the passenger or crew member for going overboard before law enforcement concludes an investigation.
For those readers who speak Italian, there is also an audio portion of a news report regarding this story. Recent newspapers from Italy contain additional photographs of the missing crew member, Mr. Faliva, shown here at the stern of the Coral Princess:
Mr. Faliva (top) Falavi Family via Leggo Cronaca newspaper, Italy
Coral Princess Logo Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com
Princess PR representative Julie Benson Twitter @JulieBenson
Coral Princess Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)
Bridge Cam Princess Cruises Coral Princess
Mr. Faliva (bottom) Falavi Family via IlTempo.it