This morning I received messages from readers of Cruise Law News indicating that a passenger deployed a liferaft from a canister during a three night "cruise to nowhere" sailing from Australia. One person on the ship said:

"I have just returned from a 3 night cruise on the celebrity Solstice out of Sydney, Australia. On the 2nd night we saw one of the inflatable life boats had been deployed and the ship had to actually turn around and go back to retrieve it. We were told by several people that it was actually a passenger that threw the capsule overboard."

Other passengers mentioned that the cruise was a real booze fest during which someone apparently thought that Celebrity Solsticeactivating the liferaft was a good college-type-of-prank to perform.

I received a photo from another passenger, apparently posted on Facebook, but I don’t have a name for attribution. 

Activating a liferaft canister like this can be written off as a hair-brain shenanigan, but it is alarming to me. No one should have access to the canisters nor should they be able to deploy one. A terrorist or someone wanting to cause harm to the vessel’s operations could easily deploy a dozen of them if they are so easily accessible & deployable and there are no security precautions in place.

It reminds me of a situation several years ago when a drunken passenger entered a "restrictive" area and dropped the ship’s anchor on a Holland American Line cruise ship. You can read about that combination of drunken passenger conduct and ship security lapse here: Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor.  

October 27 2014 Update: We received a comment from the IP address of Royal Caribbean (see below) stating that "Nobody deployed the raft . . . the raft fell in the water as the strap failed . . . we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already . . ."

So what happened?  Did the canister deploy by accident? Seems like this should have been disclosed on the ship. Anyone have additional info?


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Photo Credit:  Facebook

  • bacon master

    it isn’t hard to deploy a liferaft. but for somebody who doesn’t know what to do and is drunk, it may take some time.
    on top of that, passengers in ‘crew only’ areas stand out like a sore thumb because of their behavioral cues and obvious lack of name tag, so idk where the hell was everybody??

  • Marianne Fearnside
  • Pranks like this usually end up with innocent people being hurt. Too bad no camera’s to assist in apprehending this person/s.

  • rasti

    These liferafts are not in a restricted area…the are on open deck where every single passenger has acces to it….especially on solstice class ships….I used to work or shall I say slaved myself for that cheap cruiseline..

  • Whitney

    I was on the cruise and we were never officially advised whether a passenger was responsible or whether the lifesaving appliance malfunctioned. We were advised that we were not in any danger of being under serviced in that there were plenty of other life saving appliances. It was interesting to see the recovery of the liferaft and how well the crew handled the situation.

  • Carl

    The flip side of this issue is that in an emergency they do need to be accessible to all, we just kind of bank on people being reasonably sensible. I can only imagine the headlines if an incident was made worse due to the life rafts being inaccessible or hard to get to without a crew member!
    Keep the access, increase the CCTV and stiffen the penalties.

  • Nikki

    ok, first of all, the MES is not in a crew only area. is on the open deck and guest have access to it. Second, for a trained crew member, it’s not difficult to deploy the MES and it was made like that so it could me more accessible and faster in case of an emergency. For the unknown eye, it could take some time though. Third, there are CCTV cameras on board and on the open decks.

  • Somebody who knows

    Nobody deployed the raft as its not so easy as everybody mentions above. You are all trying to say an opinion without knowing. The raft fell in the water as the strap failed. And no one deployed it as we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already (This is for you Marianna that you know everything as well).
    Please if you don’t know don’t create stories from your mind.

  • bobber

    I think they should be accessible to anyone. In the unlikely event that someone falls over…by the time you alert them and the ship stops…the person will be about a kilometer or more behind you and moving with the tide. This means they would likely already be dead.

    If one could throw out a couple of these at least the person may have a chance.

    As for any abuse…just deal with it when it happens. Those rafts are not used for general evacuation rather fallback and instant need for a man overboard.

  • Bobber:

    The liferafts / canisters are used for to evacuate crewmembers. The crew slide down chutes into the rafts once they have been deployed.

    The lifeboats on the other hand are used just for the passengers.

    These canisters are not designed to be used to retrieve overboard passengers or crew in the circumstances you describe.

  • Boo

    I can imagine the lawsuit if the liferafts were “restricted access” and someone drowned because they were locked up. Then the headline would say “Can you believe the liferafts were locked up?!? Criminal!” 😉

  • Joey P

    Strap FAILED?

  • Joey P

    How is “Strap failed ” ( equipment failure) better than a drunken passenger deploying???
    You guys have no idea…

  • On board Passenger

    I was on board the “Celebrity Solstice” last Friday afternoon, when it had to stop and turn back to retrieve the life raft. There was an announcement over the PA system, informing passengers of the incident and about what was next (the retrieval). Passengers were advised not to panic, and later, to return to their staterooms (many curious onlookers were apparently hindering the retrieval effort).
    After the incident, there was much speculation about what had happened … but nothing more was made public by the ship itself.
    Upon disembarking early on Sunday morning, one of the couples I was travelling with, saw a number of police officers escorting a male passenger off the ship, in handcuffs. I’m not sure if this was the ‘perpetrator’ (a fellow female passenger was apparently also escorted off, for glassing her husband on the face, on the first night), but it would make sense.
    The cruise was a bit of a booze-fest, and I say this as a non-drinker, but I can also honestly say that the ship’s crew was wonderful – they were everywhere, and couldn’t be more helpful.
    This was just my experience of the incident … as one of the many on board passengers.