Last night. a woman went overboard from the Azamara Quest as the cruise ship was sailing in the Mediterranean shortly after leaving Barcelona, Spain.

According to an account in the U.S. Sun titled LOST AT SEA: Woman falls overboard from Azamara Quest cruise ship sparking desperate search off Majorca coast, a “middle-aged”  woman fell from the ship last night. The ship contacted the Spanish Coast Guard around 2:00 a.m. when the ship was approximately 75 miles off of Majorca. The title of the article states that there was a “desperate search” although this is not really explained.  The AIS system chart show that thes Azamara ship made minor adjustments to it path to conduct a search, and then resumed its scheduled normal itinerary.

After Spanish Coast Guard was notified, it dispatched two helicopters, a Helimer 206 and 223. as well as the  vessel Concepcion Arenal to conduct a search for the overboard passenger.

There is no indication in the article regarding when exactly the passenger went overboard, how or why she fell from the ship, when the search by the ship was initiated, how long the initial search lasted or when the Azamara Quest left the area of the passsenger’s disappearance.

As we have stated before, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise ships to be installed with an automatic man overboard (MOB) system. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection and infrared and radar technology to immediately send a signal directly to the bridge when a person goes over the rails and then tracks the person in the water, even at night.

Without such systems, cruise ships first conduct a manual search of the ship and then review the video of cameras along the side of the ship (which are not actively manned) to see if they show someone going overboard. Such “old-school” technology delays the seach and reduces the chances that the overboard person will be rescued. Looking for an overboard person in the water at night without such technology is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s popular cruise site CruiseJunkie indicates that 368 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. Most cruise lines have not installed automatic MOB systems, despite the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act’s requirements to do so over a decade ago.

Since 2010, when the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act was passed, there have been over 120 passengers and crew members who have gone overboard from cruise ships. In the last two years before the COVID-19 pandemic (218 and 2019), an average of over 27 passengers and crew members went overboard each year.  Yet, cruise lines refuse to comply with the law and install MOB systems. These systems have long been readily available on the market; several manufacturers remain eager to sell and install these systems. The cruise industry has largely rebuffed these manufacturers without any real explanation.

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Image credit: Azamara QuestIvan T. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.