The Cruise Critic message board mentions that a passenger went overboard and was rescued from a Princess cruise ship. The person starting the thread speculated that the passenger jumped. The cruise line of course has not issued a statement. The incident reportedly occurred on the Sapphire Princess during the week of January 17, 2015.

It is always of interest to me to see how the cruising public responds to these type of incidents at sea. 

Most cruisers on this thread were quick to judge the person going overboard, harshly calling him an "idiot," "stupid," "twit," "fool," "far down the gene pool," and someone who could win the "Darwin Saphire PrincessAward."

Unfortunately, even when there is no indication that the person jumped, there is still a group mentality that brings out these type of personal attacks. I have seen these type of criticisms freely leveled against dead or missing passengers even when it turned out that the missing person was thrown overboard.

Some vacationers believe that the person going overboard should die. When I read these type of comments, I pause and think who is such a person and are they teaching their children such cruelty? One commented on this particular situation that "it is a shame that Darwin did not take precedence over rescuing. Just think – this idiot may have children and pass his genes on to his offspring." 

But there are some people, albeit a minority, on the message board who demonstrated compassion. One cruiser wrote "every person has value and it’s not up to me to judge his or her value." Another said "since none of us know his mental/emotional state, why do some resort to cruelty and downright mean spirited comments?"

But character assassination seems to be usual attitude in the world of cruising. It’s a step away from a Nazi-like mentality to say that the gene pool would be improved if overboard passengers would just sink to the bottom of the ocean and not inconvenience the passengers enjoying the cruise.

Such a mentality prohibits a meaningful discussion of how to prevent future tragedies. These type of people appear indifferent to the notion that cruise line corporations should invest in improvements to lifesaving technologies and techniques. For reasons not clear to me, many people seem to find enjoyment in mocking families who experience the horror of losing a loved one at sea. 

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Photo Credit: "Sapphire Princess at Hakata port" by Spaceaero2 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

  • Jenny

    Having worked on cruise ships I feel I have some insight as to people who go overboard. It is IMPOSSIBLE to “accidently” fall. The railings are at a set height that people actually would have to either climb over them or deliberately sit themselves on them in order to fall. I was working on board when we recovered someone who was witnessed going over board after DELIBERATELY throwing themselves overboard. Fortunately they were found quickly with minor injuries. CTV cameras are also fitted to ships so in most cases they can be studied to ascertain what happened. I think you would find that There is little if any evidence that anyone who goes overboard has been pushed.

  • JJ

    Thanks for this post, Jim. Those loathsome comments from the Cruise Critic-types show that society still has a long way to come on understanding depression and mental illness. If someone attempts suicide they need help, not ridicule. I hope cruise lines take your advice on investing in person-overboard-detecting technologies so that these folks can be rescued more often.

  • Margot Haliday Knight

    Our species’ cruelty to our own kind is unfathomable. Much of it is due to sheer thoughtlessness–especially in the on-line community. Much of it is due to a deep discomfort with anything related to mental illness (especially when it comes to suicide) and much of it is a misplaced invincibility response”that couldn’t/wouldn’t/won’t ever happen to me”.

  • barney

    These comments are not only in the cruise world, these comments are made every day and in every matter. This world is in the shape its in because of so many cruel, rude, judgmental, ignorant, human beings.

  • Marianne Fearnside
  • Yvonne

    I was on this cruise and the young man jumped from the 14th deck deliberately after an argument with his mother/brother. He was an older teenager of Chinese Canadian nationality. The entire family were landed in Bali. We had just left Jakarta and I have to say the crew of Sapphire Princess were amazing. It was a miracle the young man was found alive and well in less than an hour.