There’s more to the story regarding how 20 year old Kendall Wernet, a student at Clemson, died aboard the Carnival Ecstasy than the cruise line disclosed in its carefully crafted PR statement on Monday.

Carnival claimed that Mr. Wernet climbed up onto the cruise ship’s forward mast and "subsequently fell and landed on the deck." But Carnival left out some key facts from its statement.

Mr. Wernet was an outstanding student who was on an "awards cruise" with other top achieving students who decided to walk up to the radar platform at the end of the cruise, according to a news Carnival Ecstasy Radarstation in South Carolina, quoting the organization owner, Steve Acorn.

"They had seen a group up there the night before and thought it would be a good idea to go there at about 5 a.m. to see the sun rise over Miami," Mr. Acorn says. No drinking was involved.

Mr. Acorn tells WYFF News 4 that a small group of students decided to go to the "top of the front mast to watch the sunrise, and talk about how happy they were in their life, and started planning their next journeys . . . They had been up there for approximately 45 minutes, just talking about life. There had be no drinking or any drugs involved, during that time, or prior. They had witnessed 4-6 individuals do the same thing the previous night. It was not their original idea, and they thought they would do the same for the last night on the ship."

Mr. Acorn said that four students had laid down on the platform, but Mr. Wernet had not. When the radar disc was turned on and began to rotate, it knocked Mr. Wernet to the deck below.

Given the Carnival reputation for out-of-control partying, there was wide-spread speculation that alcohol was involved in the accident. Carnival’s press release about the student "climbing up the mast" created the false image that Mr. Wernet was perhaps a drunk and reckless person, like a scene out of Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan climbs to the top of the Jenny shrimp boat.

Carnival claims that the area was "restricted" which raises more questions than provides answers.

Were the "restrictions" enforced? Other students had reportedly gone up on the radar platform the night before without consequence. The students had also reportedly been up on the platform for 45 minutes before the accident. Where were the cruise line security personnel? Was the area protected by a locked door or security fence? Were alarms in place? Were CCTV cameras covering the area and were the cameras monitored? Or was the area "protected" by just a sign?

Carnival needs to spend more time providing greater security measures and protecting its guests rather than writing incomplete and misleading PR statements to protect its reputation.

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

October 2 2014 Update: "Personal responsibility" proponents keep in mind that a corporations is considered to be a "person" in the eyes of the law.  Unfortunately many people (see below) don’t hold corporations to the same standard as a person.  They use the term "personal responsibility" to mean "no corporate responsibility." Of course the passengers have a legal obligation to use reasonable care for their own safety, but corporations also have the legal duty to use reasonable care for their guests’ safety. They go hand in hand. The greater the risk of danger to the passengers, the higher the care owed by the cruise line to the passengers. Carnival apparently used only a "restricted area" sign. It did not cordon off the entrance, didn’t use a lock, didn’t use an alarm, didn’t use CCTV cameras, didn’t monitor the area, didn’t use security personnel, etc.) The cruise line used virtually no reasonable care at all. It just posted a sign, and if all the sign said was "restricted area" that’s not much of a warning.

Does anyone have up close photos of the sign and entrance to the mast / radar tower?



Photo Credit: RyG’s Cruise Guide

  • John Goldsmith

    Such a tragedy indeed. I knew that there were going to be two side , at least, to this story. One very big question will remain however.
    Where were the security personnel during this and the previous episode?
    Wherever they were, or whatever they were doing is of no consequence when the security is absent from the area. A small amount of caution can prevent a great deal of grief.

  • Joao

    Despite that Carnival may need to improve some procedures and rules, our safety begins with ourselves. I know that climbing the master is dangerous and forbidden, so, why should I do it and put my life at risk? The fact that others have done it the night before is no excuse.

    For me, a simple sign would work. Nevertheless, there are other places to watch the sun rising.

    My condolences to his family.

  • Bill

    What part of Restricted didn’t they understand? Being a top achiever that shouldn’t have been a problem. Seeing other people doing it is not an excuse. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, on a stupid ass doing a stupid thing! Don’t look to blame the ship!

  • MikeInATL

    I am still disgusted by the “got what he deserved” type comments but, in no way, would I look at that structure and think it would be appropriate to climb up on it… He did not get what he deserved but his actions is what caused the outcome. And, yes, Carnival does need to look at how that area is secured but I do not place the blame on Carnival.

  • Andrei

    It’s a tragedy what happened with that kind, half the blame is he’s but the other half is the ship, and I’m saying this because I’m ooff on one of carnival corporation ship. The procedure says that prior to departure a lookout or junior of has to go and check the radar antena if it’s clear, so they can turn it on, in this case I’m sure they ‘forgot’. Condoleance to the family

  • Capt.Zeroual

    “Never start the radar before going out on the wing and make sure the radar antennas are free and are not entangled by the halyards flags” An example of the advice we lavished former Captains.
    Today, the OOW are mostly focused on their consols ……

  • Carlos

    I totally agree with Joao and Bill , there is no point trying to blame the Cruise Line , everyone with a tiny bit of brain knows that climbing up the mast is a DANGEROUS activity ….

    My condolecens for the family

  • cquest71

    Restricted means just that, even if just a posted sign is present. No, he did not ” get what he deserved.” However the cruise line should not be held liable either. It’s a beautifly ship, I was on it recently. Guests have no business being in areas where they don’t belong. The cruise lines cannot fathom all the dumb acts some guests conjure up, nor should they have to. I agree with Capt. Zeroual, and Andrei, but I wouldn’t hold the ship responsible.

  • mike wherle

    Bottom line, if is a restricted area stay out of it. Regardless if there were people up there the night before or not. Why is it that people always have to come up with some excuse to justify their actions? If you want Carnival tto put a security guard or camera by every restricted area prepare you better prepare to pay for it.

    Keep it simple, follow the rules.

  • Marianne Fearnside
  • Nicholas Martin

    It’s amazing how someone wants to put the blame on the company rather than the individual. If it is a restricted area its restricted simple stay out! they made the decision to go to a place on the ship that they were not supposed to and he paid the ultimate price.I hate that the guy died but at some point we as individuals have to take responsibilities for our actions and stop placing the blame on the company.

  • Chris Steele

    Carnival did try to protect it’s passengers by posting RESTRICTED AREA it’s a tragedy that this person died but why is it that everyone is so quick to jump on the Carnival needs to do more to protect RULE BREAKERS?

  • moisi

    I’ve been embarked in many types of ships and can confirm they are dangerous places. People do not have enough education and knowledge to understand that the ship environment is not “home”. I have personally had many injuries because of not being cautious enough even with experience. Sometimes you get distracted and that’s all. But going into some particular places like near the antennas and the radar is the most dangerous thing to be done and people should be themselves responsible enough to understand and keep themselves from this dangerous activities. This is a tragedy resulted from a group decision to risk lives in dangerous places. The “friends” of must blame themselves first and foremost.
    May he rest in peace.

  • mominbiloxi

    He was a 20 year old kid and kids do reckless things and take risks without seeing the danger or thinking of the possible consequences and outcome of those choices. While I agree that Carnival can’t be responsible for everything a person does when cruising with them, I do believe they should take every precaution necessary to insure that their passengers are safe. Posting a sign in a dangerous area is not a security measure. A sign in addition to a locked door, gate, cameras, and a visual check before equipment is engaged, etc… would not only protect passengers, but also the cruiseline. The cruiseline industry should have cameras in place and monitored in ALL exposed and posted/dangerous areas. It’s the cruiseline’s responsibility to prevent accidents and crime and provide a safe environment for their passengers. It’s not rocket science! Prayers to the family and friends who lost their son and classmate.

  • tinikini

    Well said mominbiloxi, you took the words right out of my mouth. When you are in business to serve the public you must be prepared for ANYTHING. And yes, cruise lines do have to fathom all of the dumb acts that guests conjure up. It’s called doing business, protecting your customers, and protecting your brand and reputation. Young or old, drunk or sober, people do dumb things, especially on vacation. When you are in business to serve the public you have to police people and protect them from themselves. People do not read signs, or they read the signs and ignore them. Posting “Restricted” signs and then leaving the area open and unmonitored is like posting and “Out of Order” sign on a public bathroom door and leaving the door unlocked. As a fast food business owner for the last 22 years, with 36 years total experience, I can truly say that the general public is a wild beast to tame. I could write a book on the things I have witnessed over the years. You would never dream of the things I have to do in order to keep my customers safe, my crew safe, and then on top of it myself safe from lawsuits. This is what you take on when you are in business. Cruise ships should want/have to do the same or they run the risk of bad press, a tarnished reputation, and poor public opinion in these types of situations. Either get on top of your game or get out of the business, because all of this, whether you want to believe it or not, comes with the territory. Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.

  • Chrissytina

    First of all this was a very sad situation but I was on this cruise and personally saw how this group of kids acted and to say they weren’t drinking was a lie. If they are “top achievers” they should be imbarressed of how some of those kids acted! Unfortunately I was one of the witnesses to the accident which was horrible scene. But seeing what you have to climb to go up to the radar area and with the signs you should know enough that no one belongs there! People need to take responsablilty for there actions and stop pointing the finger carnival isn’t there to babysit people they are adults and know right from wrong. Why didn’t they just go on the serenity deck which is wide open to the public and right below the radars? My heart goes out to his family but hopefully this is a learning experience for people I know it was for my children who were there