Multiple news sources are reporting that Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise ship turned around after leaving Bayonne, New Jersey because an 8-year-old child was found unresponsive at the bottom of one of the ship's swimming pools this evening.
ABC-Channel 7 News NY says that the "8-year-old is currently on life-support."
Children drowning or nearly drowning in cruise ship swimming pools unattended by life guards is not an uncommon topic.
Last December, an eight year old child drowned in an unattended swimming pool on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. The child was pulled unconscious from one of the cruise ship's pools by a passenger.
In January last year, a 4 year old boy nearly drowning aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas on January 3, 2015. The Miami Herald published Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards after that incident.
In May 2014, a 6 year old boy nearly drown on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas and left the child fighting for his life in a hospital.
Last year, in an article titled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.
All major cruise lines have lost children and passengers in swimming pools on their ships. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises continue to refuse to hire lifeguards.
To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown on the Fantasy and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.
I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects billions of dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It's shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe and to be trained and certified in life saving measures and CPR.
Read Thoughts From A Concerned Cruiser about cruise ship swimming pool safety before Disney hired life guards.
The Miami Herald covered the issue and interviewed me, reporting that there have been a dozen passengers who have drowned or nearly drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in the last 2-3 years involving primarily children: Royal Caribbean (4)(ages 4, 6, 8 and 8), Princess (4, 3 adults and one 8 year-old child), NCL (3)(ages 4, 6 and 10), Carnival (1)(age 6), and Disney (1)(age 4)(before hiring lifeguards).
July 11 2016 Update: The boy, identified as Prince Adepoju of Maryland, died on July 2, 2016, according to multiple media reports.
Photo Credit: By GlynLowe, Hamburg, Germany https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46635956; Video Credit CBS-2 NY.