An adult male passenger is reportedly missing from the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship and is believed to have gone overboard before the ship arrived in Progreso, Mexico today.

The Carnival cruise ship left Mobile, Alabama on December 15th at 4:00 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Progreso, Mexico today at 8:00 a.m.

According to the Cruise Life Cargo Facebook page, announcements were made via the Fantasy’s onboard PA system last night that a guest was missing on the ship.

We are currently on the Carnival Fantasy at port in Progreso, MX. Last night there were announcements board cast through…

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The Facebook page reported that there was a search by Carnival crew members as the Carnival Fantasy sailed toward Progreso. Approximately five and one-half hours after the Carnival cruise ship reached the Mexican port, local authorities boarded the ship with a search dog to try and locate the missing passenger.

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The missing man was reportedly on the autism spectrum, although there was no conclusion offered why he went overboard.

This is the fourth person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship in less than one month. All of the disappearances involved circumstances where the ship did not realize that the passenger (and in one case a crew member) went overboard.

None of the cruise ships seemed to be equipped with a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which would immediately notify the bridge that a person went over the railing. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology that can track the person at night in the water.

For the few cruise lines which have invested in such technology, the system can substantially increase a ship’s response to a guest or crew member going overboard. Most importantly, the system can significantly improve the likelihood of a ship conducting a successful search and rescue.

One such system, by MARSS MOBtronic, has been commercially available since 2010.  There are a number of other reliable MOB systems readily available to the cruise lines.

For cruise lines which have not invested in the technology, ship personnel are forced to conduct a search of the ship, review hours of CCTV images, and, in this case, request local authorities to board the ship with a search animal to conduct manual searches of the ship. Such efforts are usually futile.

Carnival has apparently not located CCTV images of the person going overboard and it has no idea when or why the incident occurred. It apparently did not request assistance from either the U.S. or Mexican coast guards to conduct searches at sea.  In the last overboard from a Carnival cruise ship (the Carnival Victory three days ago) Carnival was quick to announce that the guest allegedly went overboard “intentionally.”

The Carnival Fantasy has continued on with its cruise to Cozumel (scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning) and is scheduled to arrive back to Mobile on the morning of December 20th.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 24 people have gone overboard from cruise ships this year. That’s an average of 2 a month.

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

December 19, 2018 Update: 

Carnival has to review hours of CCTV and invite the Mexican Navy aboard with a search dog to try to locate a passenger?

WKRG New5 Cruise passenger with special needs confirmed dead.

Photo credit: Carnival Fantasy (top) – Carnival Cruise Line; bottom – Cruise Life Cargo.

  • Martin Wiggall

    Luke is my cousin… we are praying for him. He couldn’t swim as far as I know, so it’s urgent that he be found quickly…

  • John hampton

    Why can’t we be honest about the people falling overboard. For the most part it is not normal people who randomly fall overboard through no fault of their own because railings are not high enough. It’s usually people who are drunk who voluntarily engage in stupid behavior or people who want to kill themselves.

  • CruiseLaw

    John – yes, let’s be honest. Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which requires cruise ships calling on U.S. ports to have Auto MOB systems. The systems are required irrespective of why the person goes overboard, whether due to intoxication of guests (when cruise lines over-serve passengers alcohol to make hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-free profits), or intentionally (crew members working unreasonably long contracts without mental counselling decide to end their lives), or involuntarily (when guests are thrown overboard).