Multiple news sources are reporting that Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship turned around after leaving Bayonne, New Jersey because an 8-year-old child was found unresponsive at the bottom of one of the ship’s swimming pools this evening.

ABC-Channel 7 News NY says that the "8-year-old is currently on life-support."

Children drowning or nearly drowning in cruise ship swimming pools unattended by life guards is not an uncommon topic. 

Anthem of the SeasLast December, an eight year old child drowned in an unattended swimming pool on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. The child was pulled unconscious from one of the cruise ship’s pools by a passenger. 

In January last year, a 4 year old boy nearly drowning aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas on January 3, 2015. The Miami Herald published Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards after that incident.

In May 2014, a 6 year old boy nearly drown on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas and left the child fighting for his life in a hospital.

Last year, in an article titled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.

All major cruise lines have lost children and passengers in swimming pools on their ships. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises continue to refuse to hire lifeguards.

To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown on the Fantasy and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.

I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects billions of dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It’s shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe and to be trained and certified in life saving measures and CPR.

Read Thoughts From A Concerned Cruiser about cruise ship swimming pool safety before Disney hired life guards.

The Miami Herald covered the issue and interviewed me, reporting that there have been a dozen passengers who have drowned or nearly drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in the last 2-3 years involving primarily children: Royal Caribbean (4)(ages 4, 6, 8 and 8), Princess (4) (3 adults and one 8 year-old child), NCL (3)(ages 4, 6 and 10), Carnival (1)(age 6), and Disney (1)(age 4)(before hiring lifeguards).

July 11 2016 Update: The boy, identified as Prince Adepoju of Maryland, died on July 2, 2016, according to multiple media reports.


Photo Credit:  By GlynLowe, Hamburg, Germany; Video Credit CBS-2 NY.


  • Susan Henry

    If they want parents to be lifeguards, stop allowing alcohol poolside. I think there is a conflict for the cruise ships there.

  • Wally Crow

    I was on the cruise in Dec.2015 when the 8yr drowned. Liberty of the Seas. It happened in the kids pool five and half feet deep. The alpha call came out after a 13 yr boy found the kid in the pool. The pool was closed for two days with yellow caution tape around it. Some people on the ship thought life guards watched all pools. But they have signs clearly saying no life guards. I wonder if the ship made changes after that? They dry docked the ship soon after my cruise. They can all afford life guards.

  • Elizabeth

    As a mom of two girls who have been cruising since infancy, part of the issue lies with the parents. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen children left unattended at the pools. My girls are 9 and 11 now. Both have to be within eyes view in the water. Both are excellent swimmers and can only go in the water if the other child is in too. Using the buddy system also helps.

  • Lisa Travis

    I feel that if pools do not have any life guards parents should be very attentive to there children.
    Even when there are life guards its a parents responsibility to watch there children. I would never not watch my daughter when near water, whether its a pool or the beach. Its very saddening this child is now fighting for his life. The cruise line is not at fault, the parents are

  • So sorry for this poor kid! My husband and I know firsthand how HORRIBLE RC and their service is. We were left waiting to board Independence of the Seas in the searing Florida sun for over FOUR hours due to problems with what I guess was their computer system as well as something about immigrations in late January. I suffered a heat stroke and the staff was anything but helpful. I can’t say anything good about the whole experience except for the food. We will never again sail with this God awful cruise line. Ever.

  • RCL :NYSE should be held accountable, IMHO.

    We have cruised on many ships and they now Nickle and Dime ya kinda par at NCL.. but RCL is for themsleves more tha the Paying Passenger.. Yes Cruisers whoi have cruised know well it should not cost for nice steak.. nor $5.00 plus a 18 %n for Basic American Cramnberry Juice aboard..

    It is now called a Nickle and Dime Line..

    On Life Guards do you really think they would spend ANY Money for that?

    Look at the Low Passenger to Staff Ratios. One of the Lowest of any Cruise line worldwide.

  • A Witch.

    Is this SHIP Cursed?

  • Lynne

    This is total bullshit that these cruise ships don’t have lifeguards…with pools on ships and many children using them it’s a MUST to have a lifeguard at each pool. My God how many more drownings or near drownings does there have to be before something’s done? Wasn’t one incident all they needed to open their eyes and get lifeguards. Isn’t a child’s/adult’s life top priority over having to pay for lifeguards?
    What are they trying to save money for? A person’s life comes FIRST. My daughter and her family left today on this same cruise ship that this incident occurred. Everyone was devastated hearing about this and many I’m sure witnessed this little boy being pulled up from the bottom.If they’re not going to have lifeguards there shouldn’t be any pools.I wouldn’t be surprised if business dropped drastically for these Royal Caribbean Cruise ships. My daughter and her husband have their 2 children with them and when they heard this and witnessed the commotion going on they were upset too. Such a horrible thing to happen when it’s suppose to be a wonderful time for everyone….HIRE LIFEGUARDS FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!!

  • Owen

    once agin the short comings of the parents, get blamed on the cruise line!!
    where were the parents??……my guess would be getting drunk.and totally Irresponsible

  • Corina

    MSC Divina did have life guards, we just came back from a cruise in May. However we as grand parents would never leave our grandchildren unattended as we never did with our own children when they were little.

  • Suzanne

    Very sad.

    Starting to think that no child should be allowed in any pool on board without specific supervision by law.

    I posted mainly because I was hoping there was good news and updates on the child’s condition.

  • Bill

    So sad but there are signs posted around the pools about no lifeguards. Cruise ships are not babysitters. Children are their parents responsibility. Watch them. Maybe cut down on the drink of the day
    And pay attention to your children. Put down your phones and actually watch them.

  • Roxanne

    Doesn’t matter where you are, parents need to be parents! I have taken several cruises with my son from age 5 til now. My job as a parent was to care for him and assure he was safe. So, I passed on the booze and spent time with my son. We have had several awesome cruises. Cruises post no lifeguards, so parents need to be parents. This could have been prevented if they had been decent parents. Pathetic


    If parents take children on an ocean cruise, then it’s their responsibility to be vigilant for them. Children are children and they don’t understand all the entrapment of a cruise ship. You can’t let them out of your sight.If you can’t take care of your kids on a cruise,then leave them with other family members and you two have your fun. Or hire a responsible nanny to go with you on the cruise to watch the children.

  • Dawn

    My family and I were just on Granduer of the Seas out of Baltimore and was appalled to the lack of supervision of children by their parents not only at the pool but all over the ship. I have been on several cruises and cannot begin to say how digusted with parents I am. I am a mom & a grandmother and I have to say ,while my sister & I sat poolside everyday ,we were watching other people’s children. We never saw a parent & those children were wearing floaties up to 6 or 7 years old. Although I know these cruise ships can afford & should have life guards, parents need to be parents. They let them loose like animals. At least if there were lifeguards someone else could take care of the wildness that goes on around the pool w/ kids. I go on a cruise to vacation not babysit every kid in the pool.

  • Michelle

    I am also very sickened about this young boy… hopefully he can pull through. I also think cruise ships should absolutely have life guards. I have two children and while they are older now 18 and 14, when they were younger never would they be unattended. HOWEVER, those blaming the parents should not….we do not know the circumstances. That is unfair… they are going through the unthinkable.. Praying for boy and his family.

  • Mike

    As a parent it is always a disaster to hear that a child dies or have an accident.

    But a parent is a 24/7/365 job and one has to be aware of your child is your responsibility day and night.

    Its easy to believe that someone else will take care of everything, but be real. Lifeguards or not, I would never myself leave the area and assume someone else would do my job! and even the most experianced lifeguard could miss it and who to blaim then except yourself?

  • tinikini

    IMO….Parents should watch their children, teach their children to be excellent swimmers, and the pools should all have lifeguards, no matter if it is a ship, hotel pool, or public pool. It is not just for children, but adults too.

    I remember being on vacation and watching an older lady drink martinis by the pool all day and then decided to go for a dip. Not long after entering the pool she was screaming for help in the deep end. My brother and I, at 8 and 10 years old, dove in and rescued her, pulled her to the shallow end and to the stairs. Had we not been powerful swimmers, she might have drowned, as there was no lifeguard. So thankful that my Mom pushed us with swimming lessons and Junior Life Saving. My thoughts and prayers to this poor family.

  • Glenda

    For the very few 1-2 kids that unfortunately drown in pools on cruise ships each year, I’m sure there are many that drown in non-lifeguarded hotel pools each year. Why are cruise lines scrutinized and ridiculed more?

  • Pamela

    Parents are already irresponsible. All life guards would do would be to encourage them to be even more irresponsible.

  • Origoxy

    The question is:

    Does hotels such as Hilton have life guards at their pools?

    If the answer is no, then why would cruise ship have it?

    Nothing is for free.

  • Gigantic cruise ships like this, over 4 football fields long and over 6,000 passengers aboard, with lots of pools are more like huge amusement parks than a hotel.

    It’s unreasonable not to have lifeguards and pool attendants, certified in lifesaving and CPR, at a water-amusement park or cruise ship swimming pool.

  • Ron

    I came off the ship right before it departed again. My heart goes out to the boy and his family. If there isn’t lifeguards on duty, make sure your kid puts on a life vest that the cruise line provides! It amazes me how the boy can be without oxygen for 18 min and nobody saw him in trouble in the pool! Always keep an eye on your children even though your on a cruise ship!( don’t have that ahhh how far can he or she go attitude!

  • Nancy

    My family and I just returned from Anthem of the Seas. The drowning of this poor little boy is a very sad tragedy. However, I find it to be very sad that not one of the 40 something family members who were traveling with this child were there to keep an eye on him. Let me also mention that during the Muster Drill the Captain specifically announced that Life Jackets would be available for children right next to the main pool where this tragedy happened, and yes they were there. There are also signs about no lifeguards and for parents to supervise their children. While sitting in the Solarium which is the adult swimming area right before the tragedy, there were children running through the area unattended, where were their parents? Parents, yes this is your vacation too, but you are responsible for your children.

  • Delilah

    We were on the Anthem at the time of this unfortunate incident. There were so many stories being tossed around on board that no one really knows the truth. It happened soon after departure. Maybe the parents were unpacking and the boy just wanted to walk the ship but decided to go swimming instead. Does anyone know if he had a medical condition that possibly caused a seizure? Kids think they are invincible and test their boundaries. He may have thought he was big enough to take care of himself.

    I do notice that no one is talking about the guy who had a heart attack on Wednesday night and died in the Music Hall.

  • Susan

    We were on that cruise too. Lots of kids on that week. Over 800 kids. Yes they closed the Music Hall because of another medical emergency. No mention by staff or captain about what happened and I see other posting that man died of a heart attack. There were a lot of older adults with wheel chairs, canes, walkers too.

  • Anita Smith
  • Beverley

    I have a question….do cruise ships fall under the same classification or something as hotels? Becasue hotels never have lifeguard either….again, except Disney….they do have it posted just like the ships that there are no lifeguards on duty, but is there some loophole that exempted hotels and ships from being required to provide credentialed lifeguards?

  • Kathy Peryea

    As this is a I hope someone from this firm, or someone in the know, will start a petition of the appropriate cruise line[s] on to require lifeguards on these ships:

    Or someone could write their congressman. Not enough to just have case by case litigation.