Last night a young woman from Bartlett, Tennessee disappeared from the world’s largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.
According to experts who track cruise ship disappearances, she was the 186th person to go overboard from a cruise ship in the last ten years.
At the time of the overboard last night, the Allure was sailing to Nassau after leaving Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades).
Royal Caribbean Cruises issued a press release that the 21 year old U.S. passenger went overboard at 9:25 PM Eastern Standard Time last night. The incident was apparently captured on the cruise ship’s CCTV cameras.
Royal Caribbean Delays Notifying the Coast Guard
The Sun Sentinel reports that the incident was reported to the cruise line around 9:30 PM, but the cruise line delayed reporting the incident to the Coast Guard for 2 hours until 11:30 PM. According to the Sun Sentinel. the cruise line apparently searched the ship for two hours to look for the young woman.
Only after the shipboard search was unsuccessful did the ship contact the Coast Guard.
Royal Caribbean Denies Delay
According to Cruise Critic, Royal Caribbean says that there was no delay. It released a statement claiming that after another passenger observed the overboard and reported it, "the ship’s Captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard." This is inconsistent with the Coast Guard statement that Royal Caribbean waited until 11:30 PM to notify it and then search in the water for the passenger.
The Allure is a huge ship with some 8,000 passengers and crew members. As the cruise line likes to advertise, the massive ship comprises some seven neighborhoods. Why would the cruise line waste valuable time searching such a big ship while sailing for two hours away from where the overboard was observed?
Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that 186 people (passengers and crew members) have gone overboard in the last decade or so.
The last overboard from the Allure of the Seas was in early February of this year when an Irish passenger in his 20’s went overboard.
In instances where suicide is suspected, the cruise lines usually allude to that in their initial public statement. There is no mention of that so far.
Alcohol is often involved in cruise ship overboards, but there is no mention of that factor one way or the other.
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September 18, 2012 Update: Cruise line’s 2 hour delay in inconsistent with Coast Guard regulations, International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommendations and cruise line safety management system (SMS) procedures – read here..
September 19, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean tries to justify why it delayed stopping the ship and notifying the Coast Guard. Coast Guard ends its delayed search. FBI now involved.
September 20, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Struggles to Justify Delayed Notification to Coast Guard.
September 22, 2012 Update: Allure of the Seas: "Profits Over Passenger Safety?"
September 27, 2012 Update: Passenger identified. One of her last comments on Twitter: ‘Lord Keep Us Safe On This Gigantic Cruise Ship."
October 3, 2012 Updates: Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger