A twenty-year old man cruising with his family went overboard late last night as the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas was returning to Port Everglades following a four day cruise to the Amber Cover cruise port in the Dominican Republic.

The Miami Herald reported that the passenger went overboard “about 57 miles off Great Inagua, the southernmost island of the Bahamas, located near the eastern tip of Cuba, according to information from the U.S. Coast Guard.” Other newspapers, including the New York Post, report that the young man was in an obvious state of intoxication after drinking through the evening. According to news accounts from one of his friend, he was in a crowded hot tube until around 3:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, he reportedly walked toward the elevators when he suddenly jumped overboard. “Some passengers said it appeared to be an impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decision.”

None of the newspaper who reported on this most recent cruise ship overboard (there have been 406 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships or ferries in the last 25 years according to the definitive analysis by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein), mention the fact that no cruise ships owned or operated by Royal Caribbean (or Carnival or NCL or most other cruise lines) are equipped with life saving automatic man overboard systems as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010.

Such automatic MOB systems utilize state-of-the-art motion detection, video and infrared technology and radar to instantly detect when someone goes over the rails of a cruise ship. The system can then track the person’s movements in the water even at nighttime. In this case, where the person is clearly seen going overboard, the MOB radar and infrared technology would nonetheless be crucial in assisting the ship in locating and rescuing the person in the water. Without such a system, the chances of locating an overboard person in the water at night it like finding a needle in a haystack.

This young man has not been located to date, despite an extensive Coast Guard Search.

The New York Post erroneously reported that ‘in the past few years, most cruise lines have enacted onboard safety measures and surveillance systems to help reduce the risk of overboard deaths.” It provided no facts regarding such a claim which, or course, is untrue. Only Disney Cruise Line ships and one MSC ship (MSC Meraviglia) have such MOB systems installed.

Many cruise fan sites, like Cruise Hive for example, make absolutely no mention whatsoever of the absence of man overboard systems on cruise ships but still make the argument that “cruise lines go out of their way to make sure their ships as safe as possible, such as by installing high railings on outdoor areas and balconies.”  It’s as if the U.S. Congress never enacted the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which first required cruise lines to install advanced MOB systems.

The absence of such systems on 99% of cruise ships clearly indicates that the cruise industry is not serious in taking meaningful steps to reduce deadly cruise ship overboard cases. The majority of passengers who go overboard are grossly intoxicated by the excessive amount of alcohol sold during cruises. One of the first things that the security department on Royal Caribbean cruise ships does to investigate the reason someone has gone overboard is to print out the passenger’s itemization of onboard purchases. Such documentation lists the alcoholic drinks sold and the time and location of the bar where the guest was served. We have seen many cases where the guest will be sold 15 to 20 drinks in a few hours before they go overboard. The most drinks we have seen served to a Royal Caribbean guest, just 21 years old, is 22 drinks in a 4 hours period. He went overboard (but survived) from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas many years ago.

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