Anthem of the SeasLast Wednesday, I received a number of messages from cruise passengers about an incident on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas regarding what was described as a woman (passenger) who either suffered a heart attack or nearly drowned in one of the ship’s swimming pools.

The cruise ship increased its speed to arrive back in port in New Jersey so that the passenger could receive shore-side medical treatment, although some people indicated that the woman died on the ship while it was returning to port.

This weekend, the Jersey Journal posted an article titled Cruise ship sped back to Bayonne after woman’s medical emergency in pool: Royal Caribbean. The article quoted one of the ship’s passengers who reportedly witnessed part of what happened when the Anthem was about halfway through its return voyage from Bermuda to Bayonne: 

"When we arrived in the area, she had just been pulled from the water and was unresponsive and had a pale/purple look." 

A press release issued by Royal Caribbean, however, downplayed the incident saying:

"On Tuesday, August 10, a 72-year old female from the U.S. onboard Anthem of the Seas was witnessed by guests having difficulty swimming in one of the ship’s pools. The guest was helped out of the pool, was initially treated by the ship’s medical team, but required additional medical attention. Therefore, the ship increased its speed for the earliest possible arrival into Cape Liberty, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team provided support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The newspaper said that none of several area hospitals in Hudson County and Staten Island, or the U.S. Coast Guard for the New York/New Jersey area, or the Bayonne Police Department had "knowledge of any cases matching Royal Caribbean’s description of the incident."

Did the woman pass away after being pulled from the water unresponsive (or "helped out of the pool" as the cruise line euphemistically puts it)? Why wasn’t a medevac by helicopter requested? (We have reported on a prior medevac this June when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew 260 miles out to pick up ill passengers from a NCL cruise ship).

Royal Caribbean is no stranger to swimming pool medical emergencies. An eight year old boy died after being pulled from an unattended swimming pool on the Anthem of the Seas in June of this year. A four year old and a six year old nearly drowned in pools on the Oasis of the Seas and the Independence of the Seas respectively.

Before this latest incident, fourteen (14) passengers drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships without lifeguards, including eleven children. After every such tragedy, many cruise fans quickly blame the children’s parents for not paying attention.  But three adults drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in just the last two years. 

Lifeguards, of course, do more than just keep kids safe in pools.  A certified lifeguard, trained in life saving measures, can provide immediate CPR on the scene of a heart attack or other medical emergency.  

If a passenger suffers a near drowning or a heart attack, and a lifeguard is not on the scene to immediately provide CPR, it may be too late – for the medical team to run up from a lower deck on a huge ship, for ship personnel to decide whether to request a helicopter medevac, or for the ship to speed up to return to port. 

Photo Credit: By from Hamburg, Germany – Anthem of the Seas – Cruise Ship in Hamburg, CC BY 2.0.

  • Desiree

    We just sailed on the Empress of the Seas. There was a security person watching the pool but he never addressed any dangerous activities that were taking place. Some guys were belly flopping in from an upper level. The pool was very small with lots of passengers in the water. There was also a young child maybe 10, who was unable to swim. When a passenger asked her where were her parents she said they were on the deck way over there. This same women had befriended her and tried to teach her to swim. Moral of the story is they NEED LIFEGUARDS!

  • Tim Dye

    When will they give in?
    How many will have to Die before they do.
    It’s become a matter of good business to me.
    Pay for Lifeguards, or risk loosing customers due to fear.

  • Owen

    Correction……..people need to take responsibility for their actions…..we are not sheep we are suppose to be adults!!.hows about food coaches in the buffet and dining room telling you, that you are eating or drinking to much, as well???
    I”ve been on enough cruises to see the parents of unsupervised children, doing what ever they want, and when something goes wrong, they want to blame the cruise line..

  • Debbie

    Moral of the story is that parents need to watch their own kids when they are in the pool. Lifeguards are not babysitters.

  • Evelyn Livingston

    Folks, we need to accept responsibility. If there was a life guard in place but an event still happened. . Guess what .. now it’s the life guards fault!

  • Keith

    I was on the ship and it was reported that the passenger had died.

  • It takes attention parents and a responsible cruise line working together to keep kids safe around cruise ship pools. Cruise lines have a non-delegable duty to exercise reasonable care to protect all passengers on their cruise ships. Refusing to assign lifeguards certified and trained in emergency lifesaving measures is, in my assessment, reckless. People who talk about “personal responsibility” mean that they do not expect the cruise lines to meet their responsibility. Why would a family who pays to go on a cruise “accept 100% responsibility” when the cruise line acts recklessly?

  • Origoxy

    Does hotels like Hilton ashore have lifeguards?

    No, they don’t

    Cruise lines should be held accountable to the same standards as shore side facilities.

    When life guards become mandatory ashore, then it should also be in the ships.

  • Zoe

    I was on board the anthem of the seas during this incident, and even participated in the immediate care of the woman.

    There seemed to be no emergency protocol being followed. None of the ships Pool Guards participated in or even seemed to know CPR or any other life saving techniques. They stood around and watched as guests tried to save this woman’s life.

    I was also extremely upset to find that there was no AED, no safety equipment or first aid anywhere on any of the pool decks. By the time I found one, precious time had been wasted away, and emergency personnel STILL hadn’t shown up on scene.

    All I can say is that there needs to be changes made on the Anthem of the Seas, if not on every Royal Caribbean ship. And the various articles written downplaying the event is a disgrace to the woman, her family, and everyone involved or witnessing the event. It was truly traumatic and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

  • Rose

    I was a passenger on anthem of the seas at the time of this tragedy and witnessed first hand passengers NOT Royal Caribbean crew members doing everything they could to try to save this woman.. The crew did not have any knowledge of CPR or any sort of life saving procedures.. One passenger in particular, Mark who is a trauma nurse worked tirelessly to save this woman… The response from the crew and medical staff was ridiculously SLOW.. I along with three other passengers went to guest services to complain about the crew and to commend Mark and the other passengers who worked so hard to help this woman. For Royal Caribbean to downplay such a horrific incident is offensive to both the woman, her family and the passengers who witnessed this tragedy.. It took at least 20 minutes before the crew cleared the area to give the family and the people working on her any privacy.. children stood in stunned silence trying to comprehend what was going on. At no time did Royal Caribbean make any announcement to its passengers other than to say the ship would be moving at a greater speed to bring the passenger to shore sooner. Nothing was done to calm the passengers and certainly not enough was done by Royal Caribbean to help this passenger..

  • Dave

    Do small not-for-profit charities like the locally operated YMCA have lifeguards?? YES!!