BBC News reports that a six year old boy was pulled from a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas yesterday. 

The AFP news agency says that the child’s heart had stopped when he was found in the cruise ship pool.

BBC says that the cruise ship’s doctor was able to re-start the boy’s heart. The cruise line then requested that the boy be taken for emergency medical treatment ashore in northwest France by Independence of the Seas Swimming Poolhelicopter. 

A spokesman for a maritime agency in Brest, France said that the "child was found in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest at the bottom of the ship’s pool."

This incident will be certain to trigger another debate whether cruise lines should staff their swimming pools with lifeguards. 

In the last year, four children six years of age or younger have drown or nearly drown on the major cruise lines, Disney, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines. None of these ships had lifeguards assigned to their pools at the time. 

A 4 year child remains brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy, in March of last year.  A 6 year old child is dead after drowning on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory, in October of last year. A 4 year old is dead and his 6 year old brother is injured after similar tragedies on NCL’s Norwegian Breakaway, last February.

In our view, there is no excuse not to assign lifeguards to cruise ship pools. The costs is minimal and the need is substantial.  Yes, parents need to supervise their children but cruise lines need to exercise their corporate responsibility to supervise the pools, enforce pool rules, and be ready to perform CPR if necessary.

Here are two of our many articles on the issue:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards?

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

Disney is now the only cruise line which employs lifeguards, after the near-fatality last year. 

January 4 2015 Update: Another passenger performed emergency CPR on the child and saved him. Harpenden mum saves six-year-old from drowning on holiday cruise.

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.


Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jolly Janner

  • Alinie Laurindo

    Concordo plenamente com o “pedido” de que em todo navio com piscina tenha salva-vidas. Porem espero que se isso realmente for uma obrigação das companhias que ao menos as cumpram com verdadeiro comprometimento. Pois não adiantaria de nada contratarem pessoas desqualificadas para tal serviço. Pois é o que acredito que TODAS as companhias façam. Fazem meras entrevistas com meros treinamentos e nas próprias entrevistas pode-se mentir suas habilidades e, mesmo assim você passa na entrevista e logo recebe data de embarque . Onde eu pergunto ? Será que realmente seriam contratados salva-vidas competentes com a função?!?!?!?!

  • Laurie

    The CRUISE LINES make so much money that the surly could afford a life guard on the ship… The safety fo the passengers come before anything… That is what keeps the ships afloat.. Come on Cruise Companys pay to keep your passengers safe. DISNEY has life guards on board there ships… Parents should think about using DISNEY if they have children…

  • Laura Johnston
  • Skip

    I think Laura Johnston is correct. I have been on several cruise where it was apparent that parents just dropped their children at the pool while they went to the casino or lunch or the spa or where ever. The cruise lines aren’t their babysitters. Watch your own kids. Please don’t expect me to do it for you or to pay someone else to.

  • Steve Mencik

    It is no different than public beaches with no lifeguards or private pools with no lifeguards. It is clearly posted that none are on duty and swim at your own risk. It is up to the parent’s or guardian to watch after their children. Adding lifeguards would be a significant expense. Not it terms of the salary and benefits for trained lifeguards but in terms of added liability insurance. With the current practice, the cruise lines are not liable for accidents in their pools. If they post life guards, then they are liable and thus need much greater insurance. More parent’s and guardians will then be irresponsible and leave their children unattended “because there is a lifeguard.”

  • Reene

    Yes, parents should watch their children at all times and not push that responsibility on to others, however, I applaud Disney Cruise Lines for adding the Life Guards to their ships. Other lines need to do the same thing.

  • Rose Marie

    Whether it’s onland,cruise ship,home,beach.its always parents responsibility to look after their child,makin sure they won’t go to places they are not suppose to.Just becoz u are on cruise havin a grand vacation doesn’t mean u will put the responsibility or safety of your child to other people.The mere fact that there’s no lifeguard around just means you should always keep an eye on your child

  • Janet Broxup

    Yes, lifeguards should be present at the poolside but parents are ultimately responsible for the safety and supervision of their children. I have been on 7 cruises, mostly RCI, and have been shocked by the lack of both parental supervision and discipline by cruise staff when children and teenagers have been left to their own devices at all hours of the day and night. These tragedies may be rare but they shouldn’t be happening at all.

  • Sarah Wilson

    I was on the cruise where the boy nearly drown the parents must be mortified and I give them my best wishes but being 13years of age I and my friends I had met on the cruise ages 11 and 14 were the ones who found the boy at the bottom of the pool,he was face down with illuminous shorts on how no one noticed him was shocking,my friend quickly alerted the nearest staff which happened to be at the bar. They rushed to get medical help but as we stood there we were told by staff to pull the boy out of the pool we successfully pulled him out and he was rushed over to the medical team. My youngest friend was shocked and crying we all stood in horror at what had just happened but I think that the staff should not tell children as young as we are to do such a thing. Life guards should have been there if it weren’t for us he would have died. Cautions need to be made and parents should be more aware of where their children are. I am still shocked at what happened but it would never of happened to the poor boy if the pool was guarded. For us to have to do that was horrifying. But I hope the boy is safe,well and recovers fully. Best wishes to the boy and his family.

  • Christine havard

    I watched the incident unfold, the boy slipped, hit his head and ended up the pool on another part of the deck where there was no supervision, but everybody including the public worked together, from then on there was staff watching the pools for the remainder of the holiday.

  • Kerry Graham

    The same happened to my daughter, six years ago, who was age six at the time, on The Independance of the Seas. We had gone with large group of family and friends and it was our first full day at sea. All the kids were so excited and it was our first cruise so we didn’t Really know the rules or anything about the ship. The kids were running around on the children’s area where the water fountains were, this area was a water area for kids, however, in the same area was a pool, which was really deep water, we had no idea and this is where my daughter jumped in, after following her cousin, who was eight months older than her and could swim a little. The pool was six feet deep, we checked afterwards and this was the deepest pool on the ship, even deeper than the adults pool, why this was put next to the kids area, I have no idea. My daughter could not swim and panicked, she tried alerting her cousin who tried to help but as she was so small too, she nearly pulled her down.

    It was only by chance that my sister was walking past to go back to her room that she spotted them and had to jump in fully clothed to save her. We were only yards away but as this pool was right in the middle of area we couldn’t see them.

    It was horrible, she could’ve died! We complained to the staff that there should be a warning sign, as we thought it was a kids play area with shallow water. They gave her a Crayola gift set and a back pack for our trouble…… I was horrified, this was not good enough but I too felt to blame for not keeping my eye on her for those few seconds.

    We stayed clear from that area for the rest of our holiday and took turns to take the kids into the family pool. It did scare us to think that something like this could happen so quickly and so unexpected.

    So anyone thinking of going on a cruise please make sure that you stay with your child in the water areas even if you think they are safe as things can be deceiving and I wouldn’t want this happening again.

  • Roy Morten

    Skip – May 28, 2014 11:48 AM
    I think Laura Johnston is correct. I have been on several cruise where it was apparent that parents just dropped their children at the pool while they went to the casino or lunch or the spa or where ever. The cruise lines aren’t their babysitters. Watch your own kids. Please don’t expect me to do it for you or to pay someone else to.
    I am agree.