A person (either a cruise guest or crew member) is presumed to have gone overboard from the Golden Princess according to a passenger on the Princess cruise ship.

Shortly after 6:15 p.m. EST today (10:15 a.m. Tuesday, January 22 – Australia time), a cruise passenger from Adelaide, Australia posted the following information on Twitter:

AIS data show the Golden Princess sailing toward Melbourne, Australia at the moment. It appears that the person went overboard last night in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. The poster explains that the Princess cruise ship searched for the missing person last night and earlier this morning.

It is currently unknown whether the person is a guest or crew member, or how or exactly when the person went overboard from the cruise ship.  It remains to be seen whether the Golden Princess was equipped with an automatic man overboard (MOB) system which would have automatically sent a signal to the bridge if someone went over the rails via state-of-the-art motion detection / infrared and radar technology. Reliable systems available to the cruise line include the MARSS MOBtronic and PureTech systems, among others.

It is always a telling sign for cruise line like Princess to be searching the cruise ship and reviewing CCTV film to look for the missing passenger.  In such cases, the overboard person has usually been in the water long before he was eventually reported missing. Eventually the person may be seen in a snippet of film going overboard but the ship has sailed on for many dozens of miles when the officers finally review the CCTV.  Valuable time is inevitably lost due to the failure to install an auto MOB system.

The Golden Princess left Adelaide, Australia on January 7th for Kangaroo Island and Melbourne, Australia; and then to seven ports in New Zealand (Fjordland National Park, Dunedin,  Akaroa, Wellington, Gisborne, Tauranga, and Auckland, New Zealand – on January 19th) and was then scheduled to return to Melbourne, Australia on January 23rd and Adelaide, Australia on January 25th.

The last overboard from a Princess cruise ship occurred in May of last year from the Sun Princess which departed from Fremantle, Australia; a passenger went overboard when the ship was approximately 100 nautical miles southeast of Singapore.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 334 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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January 21, 2019 Update: A newspaper in Australia reports that the overboard person is a 22 year old male passenger. Princess says that it is searching on the ship and looking at CCTV images.

January 22, 2019 Update: Princess says that the young man went overboard around 2:00 a.m. on Monday, January 21st according to it after-the-fact review of CCTV on the ship. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said that Princess did not alert it of the missing passenger until around 9 a.m. on Monday, according to Newsweek.

“Thoughts and prayers” from Princess but no auto MOB system . . .

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, CC BY 3.0 commons / wikimedia.

A crew member went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas yesterday morning, according to a Royal Caribbean ship employee who wishes to remain confidential.

The crew member is reportedly an entertainer from the U.K. who was a member of the shipboard musical production of Grease on the Harmony of the Seas.

The Harmony of the Seas left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 23rd and was sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten where it arrived this morning and will remain until 5 p.m. today.

The crew member apparently went overboard early Christmas morning some where north of Puerto Rico before the cruise ship reached St. Maarten.

The U.S. Coast Guard identified the missing crew member as “Arron Hough, 20, of the United Kingdom.”

The last Royal Caribbean crew member who went overboard disappeared from the Adventure of the Seas. He was subsequently identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As in the case of Mr. Ackroyd, Mr. Hough apparently disappeared without anyone noticing. Due to the absence of a auto man overboard system, which would instantly send a signal to the bridge and then track the overboard person in the water even at night, there was apparently no timely search for the crew member.

Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean claims that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain was quoted in an article in Quartz by Rosie Spinks titled People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it? He stated that MOB technology “is not yet at a viable stage,” despite modern systems like this and this.

It never ceases to amaze me that a cruise line that collects over 8,000,000,000 (billion $$) dollars a year tax-free, and builds billion dollar Genesis class cruise ships like the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,  Symphony of the Seas and the Harmony of the Seas, refuses to invest in such life-saving technology.

We have written before about Royal Caribbean’s dismal attitude about MOB systems and procedures relative to crew members – Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 327 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 25 people have gone overboard this year alone – an average of more than 2 a month.

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December 26, 2018 PM update: According to the Miami Herald, the Coast Guard was not notified until 1:45 pm today, even though the crew member apparently went overboard around 4 am.

Royal Caribbean’s PR department states that:

“We are saddened to report that after a review of the ship’s closed-circuit camera footage, he was observed entering an area on Deck 5 at around 4am and was not seen again. Local authorities were notified and a ship-wide search for the crew member was conducted.”

This means that the Harmony of the Seas did not conduct a search at sea at all.

Photo credit: Top – Royal Caribbean promotional video of the Harmony of the Seas; bottom – Aaron Luke Hough Twitter

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.

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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.

A cruise guest is reportedly missing from a Carnival cruise ship this morning, according to several passengers including a journalist on the ship. A passenger informed me that the ship is the Carnival Victory.

According to at least one passenger on the ship, CCTV “cameras confirm that the passenger went overboard. It’s unknown if he jumped or fell. The U.S. Coast Guard is searching by air.”

The overboard passenger appears to have gone overboard around 4 or 5 hours earlier, according to passenger accounts.

The Carnival ship was returning to Miami at the time of the overboard.

It does not appear that Carnival has complied with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which requires cruise ships calling on U.S. ports to be equipped with man overboard systems which automatically send send a signal to the bridge whenever someone goes overboard.

The cruise ship can quickly try to locate and rescue the person using sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology. Numerous experts have recommended such state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this.

Cruise expert Ross Klein reports that at least 23 people have gone overboard this year. an average of at least 2 people a month. 325 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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December 14, 2018 P.M. Update: The Miami Herald covers the story – 26-year-old man overboard from cruise ship near the Florida Keys.  “A 2010 federal law requires cruise ships to be equipped with technology to detect overboard incidents as soon as they happen “to the extent that such technology is available.” Most cruise lines do not believe the available overboard detection technology is reliable, and most ships do not have it. Carnival declined to comment on whether the Carnival Victory has automatic overboard detection technology.”

The refusal by Carnival and other cruise lines to install auto man overboard systems on their ship causes extraordinary delays in searching for the person going overboard.  Ms. Wyatt (above) was tweeting about the man overboard before 8:00 a.m this morning.

December 15, 2018 Update: The Orlando Sentinel identified the overboard guest as 26 year-old Thomas McElhany.

Photo credit: Top – Carnival Victory AIS – MarineTraffic; missing passenger – Kimberly Wyatt @tv_leader

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard from the MSC Preziosa in the Caribbean several days ago, according to the France-Antilles newspaper.

The Martinique newspaper reports that a 69-year-old Dutch citizen was not located on the MSC Cruises ship when it arrived in Fort-de-France last Saturday, December 8th.

The last port before Martinique scheduled on the cruise was Philipsburg, St. Maarten on Friday, December 7th. The unidentified passenger was last seen Friday night on the balcony of their cabin by her husband.

The newspaper concluded that “most likely hypothesis would be a fall” from the cruise ship” estimated at 30 meters.

The ship left Fort-de-France at its scheduled departure time of 11:00 p.m. on Saturday.

A helicopter and Navy jet conducted a search for the woman after he was not located on the cruise ship on Saturday morning in Martinique. The search was called off on Sunday, December 9th following which transmissions of the missing passenger continued to be circulated to merchant ships in the area.

This appears to be another case where a cruise line failed to have an automatic man overboard system installed on the ship. Such systems automatically send a signal to the bridge when a person goes over the railing. The cruise ship can quickly try to locate and rescue the person using sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology.

Numerous experts have recommended such state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires such systems for cruise ships calling on U.S ports, to the extent that such technology if available.

The last man overboard occurred on November 22, 2018 and involved a Royal Caribbean crew member who apparently jumped from the Adventure of the Seas.

The majority of cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, do not have such systems installed, claiming that the overboard detection technology is not reliable, as recently reported by the Miami Herald.

MSC Cruises, ironically, is one of the few cruise lines that has installed such technology on at least one cruise ship, the MSC Meraviglia.  MSC Cruises stated last year that it was planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

According to Seatrade Cruise News, MSC Cruises developed an “intelligent video capturing and analysis system” in collaboration with security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. MSC reported that “through over 25,000 hours of video analysis, extensive software testing and continuous algorithmic updates, the system has now reached a confirmed accuracy level of 97%.”

Seatrade also explained that the data and images are analysed by two separate and independent image processing systems which significantly lower false alerts. Once the alarm is activated in case of an overboard, an acoustic signal and light will notify the ship’s security officer, in a central security room, who can immediately retrieve and review the images and data and immediately notify the bridge to begin rescue efforts.

We have criticized MSC in the past because crew members and passengers have disappeared from ships without this type of technology.  Brazilian crew member Simone Scheuer Sousa disappeared from the MSC Musica last year. MSC’s untimely response to an overboard passenger early last year from the MSC Divina further demonstrated the need for an automatic man overboard system.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has estimated that, before this latest overboard, at least 322 people have gone overboard from cruise ship since 2000 and at least 22 people this year.

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December 14, 2018 Update: Miami Herald Search called off for Dutch woman who went overboard on MSC cruise ship.

Photo credit: Neptuno1976 CC by SA 3.0 commons / wikipedia.

 

The crew member from the Adventure of the Seas who recently disappeared from the cruise ship as it headed to Cozumel has been identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As we reported last week, this Royal Caribbean crew member did not appear at his work station on the morning of November 22, 2018. He was last recorded on the Adventure of the Seas via closed-circuit television (on deck 4 around 4:00 a.m.) but was not accounted for when the cruise ship arrived at the Mexican port. Royal Caribbean did not conduct a search for the crew member in the water. His disappearance is similar to other Royal Caribbean crew members who have gone overboard early in the morning.

We wrote about a similar situation about a year ago involving a Royal Caribbean crew member, among many others, where neither Royal Caribbean nor the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search for the missing ship employee.  Royal Caribbean, despite its enormous wealth and record profits, has not implemented available man overboard technology on its ships. Like other cruise lines, this company says that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this.

Nottinghamshire Live indicates that Mr. Ackroyd was a member of the sports staff on the Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship. The newspaper describes him as a “big Nottingham Forest fan (U.K. soccer club) and a keen sports player. He had great sense of humour and would light up a room when he walked in. He was kind-hearted and loved by everyone.”

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Photo credit: Top – Facebook; bottom – Nottinghamshire Live.

A number of cruise passengers on the Adventure of the Seas inform Cruise Law News that the captain announced to the cruise ship yesterday that a crew member disappeared from the ship.

The Adventure of the Seas was in Cozumel when the captain made an announcement that an unidentified crew member could not be accounted for and was missing from the cruise ship.  The crew member did not appear at his work station and the remainder of the crew was unable to locate him.

The fact that a crew member could “disappear” without a trace from the cruise ship indicates that Royal Caribbean has still not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system on this ship. Auto-MOB systems like this or this can detect a person going over the rails and send a signal to the bridge so that the ship can immediately search and try to rescue the person. Such systems consist of state-of-the-art motion detection sensors, thermal imaging and radar technology.

As matters now stand, when a crew member (or passenger) goes over the railing, unless an eye-witness observes the person going overboard and promptly reports it to the bridge, the ship will sail on, usually at night, without anyone knowing that a person is missing from the ship. It is not until some time after the crew member fails to show up to work that the ship will make any effort to search for the person.

Usually, the crew will search on the ship for the missing crew member and the staff captain or security chief will eventually look through any CCTV images to search for any clues whether the crew member jumped overboard.  (The vast majority of crew members who disappear at sea do so intentionally; whereas, most passengers go overboard due to gross over-intoxication).

This leads to extraordinary delays in the ship’s search and rescue efforts.  For example, in Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas, we explained that when a crew member jumped overboard early in the morning (around 5:15 a.m.), the absence of an auto-MOB caused a series of unreasonable delays in searching for the employee.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

The flag state (usually the Bahamas) usually does not even investigate when Royal Caribbean reports that a crew member has gone overboard.

The passengers who informed us that a crew member is missing from the ship in this latest case mentioned that the captain announced that a “care team” would apparently be arriving on the ship, although it is less than clear whether this was for the crew’s welfare or the guests’ benefit.

Royal Caribbean’s failure to install the proven life-saving auto-MOB technology reflects an callous indifference toward hard working crew members.

We suggest reading:

Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

Misery Machines and Crew Member Suicides.

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November 24, 2018 a.m. update:

Crew members are identifying the crew members as a 26 year old male entertainment staff member from the United Kingdom.

A crew member who worked with him a few months ago on Allure of the Seas stated that his manager reported that he was exhibiting signs of depression to shipboard HR. He went to the ship doctor on one occasion, a teleconference was reportedly arranged for him with a counselor, and he was required to continue his contract.

One crew member who does wish to be identified stated “Royal Caribbean does not care one bit for the safety or welfare of the crew . . . about 24 hours of the crew member going missing, the company had already contacted another employee to replace him (someone who is a close friend of the missing person)! Apparently there is no CCTV footage of him going overboard but instead of focusing on investigating what happened and supporting his family, friends and team mates, their priority is to find a replacement.”

November 24, 2018 p.m. update: Below is a YouTube video by Don’s Family Vacations which discusses the need of automatic man overboard technology. He recommends to cruise passengers that they fill out comment cards recommending that cruise lines implement the technology, particularly given the billions of dollars that the industry is spending on new cruise ships and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the refurbishment of ships.

 

November 24, 2018 p.m. update”Photo credit: Top – Brian Burnell – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Middle and bottom – Images from Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas via Bahamian Maritime Authority.

On December 22, 2016, the Independence of the Seas was returning to Port Everglades with approximately 3,600 passengers who were enjoying the last night of a four-night Christmas cruise. Shortly before 2 a.m., when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was around 33 miles southeast of Key Largo, a 22 year-old student, Nathan Skokan, cruising with his family, went overboard.

“Nathan, while intoxicated, made his way to the ship’s exterior 12th-floor deck with multiple passengers he had met on the cruise,” a federal district court judge wrote last week in an order in a lawsuit Nathan’s family subsequently filed (you can read the Court order here).

“One of those passengers jokingly suggested they should jump overboard, pointing to the hand rail. In turn, Nathan pretended to throw himself up on the handrail, but when he went to sit on the handrail,  . . . Nathan, seemingly intoxicated, lost his balance, slipped, and accidentally flipped over the ship’s railing.”

A number of cruise passengers informed the cruise ship officers and staff members that they witnessed a highly intoxicated guest accidentally go overboard, but Royal Caribbean ignored the eye-witness accounts and repeatedly announced to the thousands of guests and crew members and, later, to the press, that Nathan “intentionally” went overboard.

I first learned and wrote about the overboard early in the morning on December 22, 2016 when a freelance cruise travel writer aboard the Independence of the Seas tweeted that a passenger had gone overboard. On her Twitter account called @CruiseNiche, she tweeted that the captain of the cruise ship announced that the guest deliberately jumped from the ship:

By noon, Royal Caribbean had spread its false statement that Nathan “intentionally” went overboard to all of the news stations and newspapers in South Florida.

“. . . a 22-year-old man intentionally jumped overboard from the top deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was returning to Port Everglades,” NBC news station 6 reported based on Royal Caribbean’s press release.

Royal Caribbean spokesman Owen Torres told Miami local ABC news station 10 that Nathan was seen “intentionally going overboard” earlier that morning.

Local news station 7 reported that Nathan “intentionally jumped off the ship.” Royal Caribbean informed local CBS news station 4 (photo top) and WTSP channel 10, as well as the Associated Press, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel and various travel publications that eye witnesses observed Nathan “intentionally going overboard.”

Cruise fan sites like CruiseFeverCruiseHive and RoyalCaribbeanBlog all quickly (and unknowingly) spread Royal Caribbean’s lies.

Nathan’s parents, Todd and Lisa Skokan, eventually filed suit against Royal Caribbean, alleging that the cruise line grossly over-served their son with alcohol, unreasonably failed to immediately initiate search-and-rescue efforts, and misrepresented that their son had intentionally jumped from the cruise ship.

Last week the federal trial court,  U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, analyzed the facts of the case after Royal Caribbean’s defense lawyers filed a motion for summary judgment, hoping to end the case before it proceeded to a jury trial next month (on November 13, 2018). The court held that there was more than sufficient evidence for a jury to accept the Skokan family’s factual submissions:

Royal Caribbean Sold 30 Ounces of Booze to 1 Passenger in Just 12 Hours

In denying Royal Caribbean’s motion, the court stated that the Skokan family presented “ample evidence disputing Defendant’s characterization of Nathan’s death as intentional.  Plaintiffs point to multiple facts in the record showing (1) eyewitnesses observed Nathan intoxicated hours before his death, including Defendant’s employee who observed Nathan intoxicated 20 minutes before Nathan fell overboard; (2) eyewitnesses observed Nathan lost his balance and accidentally went overboard due to alcohol intoxication; (3) in the 12 hours preceding Nathan’s fall, Defendant served Nathan at least 30 ounces of alcohol, including six full-sized martinis at the martini making class earlier in the day and at least seven vodkas, two vodkas mixed with Red Bull, and one cognac; and (4) expert testimony that at the time Nathan went overboard, his level of intoxication had ‘presented an extreme risk of harm,’ supported by Nathan’s blood-alcohol content of at least .256 gm/dl, which can cause disorientation vertigo, muscular incoordination, and significantly impaired judgment.” (record citations omitted).

Royal Caribbean Did Not Immediately Conduct a Search and Rescue

The court also stated that the Skokans presented multiple facts indicating that Royal Caribbean’s search and rescue efforts were unreasonable. The court held that although “eyewitnesses immediately notified cruise personnel that Nathan had fallen overboard from the 12th floor deck Defendant (1) did not lower the rescue boats until two hours after being notified; (2) did not have its Rescue Team 2 ready for over an hour and a half after Rescue Team 1 was ready; and (3) placed its crew members approximately 100 feet above the water during the night, without additional use of search and rescue techniques.

Royal Caribbean Acted Outrageously in Repeatedly Announcing that Nathan Intentionally Jumped Overboard

The court stated that there was a basis for the Skokan family’s “intentional infliction of emotional distress” claim to be submitted to the jury, based on the cruise line’s is based on its repeated announcements that Nathan “intentionally fell overboard, which caused (them) immense grief that their son may have committed suicide –– which according to (the Skokans), Defendant and its employees knew at the time to be patently false.”

The court noted that ” . . .  about seven hours after Nathan fell overboard and seven hours after being informed by multiple eyewitnesses that Nathan’s fall was an accident, Defendant made three public announcements, for thousands of passengers including Plaintiffs to hear, that a person on board
‘was witnessed intentionally going overboard from deck 12.’ Royal Caribbean also issued a statement to the press stating Nathan had intentionally gone overboard.”

The court stated that “indeed, (the Skokans) claim that by repeatedly announcing Nathan “intentionally” went overboard, Defendant falsified the true cause of Nathan’s death and publicly disclosed Nathan had committed suicide is supported by evidence showing Defendant was informed by
eyewitnesses that Nathan’s death was an accident. (The Skokans) construe
these facts as a cover up and provide evidence showing (they) were emotionally distressed as they understood the announcement to mean Nathan had committed suicide.

Royal Caribbean Falsely Imprisoned the Grieving Skokan Family

In addition, Judge Altonaga ruled that the family’s false imprisonment allegations against Royal Caribbean will be decided by a jury. The court stated that there are material issues of fact whether the cruise line ordered Nathan’s family back to their stateroom during the belated search-and-rescue effort and posted a guard to prevent them from leaving until the ship returned to port.

My view:  “Suicide” – Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuse When a Passenger Disappears at Sea?

Over eight years ago, I wrote “Suicide – Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuse When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.  I discussed that Royal Caribbean and other Miami-based cruise lines spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to create the illusion of carefree vacation getaways where hard working Americans can relax, let their guard down, and forget the worries of city life. Passenger “disappearances” are inconsistent with the cruise industry’s marketing image which sells tickets.

When a passenger “disappears” from a cruise ship, there are a number of possible explanations.  Was foul play involved?  Did the passenger act carelessly due to alcohol?  Was the intoxication due to the cruise line’s negligence in over-serving the passenger to make the targeted profits for the cruise?  Or was the disappearance due to a plan by the passenger to end his or her life?

The possibilities are many but the cruise lines’ conclusions are few. Cruise ships are quick to attack the passengers’ character and to steer blame away from themselves when a passenger goes overboard.

This particular case raises the fundamental issue whether a cruise like Royal Caribbean can ever be trusted to investigate incidents of passengers going overboard or, for that matter, crimes against passengers. When someone disappears at sea, there usually is no investigation by the flag state or independent law enforcement.  The cruise lines know that they face potential liability when they recklessly serve a guest alcohol to and past the point of obvious intoxication. And they are particularly sensitive to their reputations following injuries or deaths involving violence, drunken rowdiness, and disappearances at sea.

Cruise lines say that the safety of their passengers is their highest priority, but that’s hardly true.  What matters most to a cruise line like Royal Caribbean seems to be the public’s perception that cruise ships are safe rather than the reality that perhaps they are not.

The Skokans are represented in the case by the law firm of Fraser Stryker in Omaha, Nebraska and  Paul M. Hoffman in Fort Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean is represented by Curtis Mase in Miami.

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Read the Entire Court Order Here:

Photo credit: Nathan Skokan – Daily Nebraska; local news snippets – South Florida news stations 4, 6, 7, 10 and WTSP.

 

A crew member reportedly went overboard from the Celebrity Reflection last night, according to a passenger on the cruise ship.

The Celebrity cruise ship was sailing from Mykonos, Greece to Rhodes, Greece.

The passenger posted comments about the incident on her Twitter page and also on Instagram:

The majority of crew members who go overboard often do so intentionally. The incidents usually occur late at night or early in the morning.  The persons going overboard are typically not observed by other crew members or by passengers. We are not aware of any Celebrity cruise ships which are equipped with automatic man overboard systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes over the rails and tracks the person in the water, even at night, via infrared, heat sensor / motion detection / radar technology.

The usual scenario involves a crew member who is overworked during a long (6-7 month) contract and becomes demoralized and decides to end his life. Another crew member may notice that the crew member has not reported to work. The ship will eventually conduct a search of the ship and will look through the ship’s CCTV.  Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Celebrity / Royal Caribbean do not actively monitor the CCTV cameras on their  cruise ships. I have written about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean cruise ships without explanation.

During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

Any investigations conducted after the fact by the cruise company or the flag state are usually done to exonerate the cruise line.

The masters on these cruise ship must notify the cruise line’s security and marine operations departments in Miami by telephone regarding any “suspected overboard situation.” Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the company’s procedures prohibit the master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water. The ship turns around only after the master first notifies the cruise line’s marine operations department in Miami.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s website, at least 322 crew members and passengers have gone overboard since 2000.

If you have any information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Update: A Greek news source identifies the crew member as a 36 year-old from the Ukraine. The news source says that the man went overboard around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night but the search efforts did not begin until “early on Wednesday” (at around 5:00 a.m).

Read: Misery Machine and Crew Member Suicides

October 20, 2018 Update: The popular Crew-Center website identified the crew member as  Alex Heleta, a well liked young man who was “working as a bar server for several contracts on different Celebrity ships, and had just embarked on Reflection. Some sources say that Hellenic Coast Guard found Alex body near the Island of Santorini, and they will send it back home for his family and friends to commemorate.”

Image credit: AIS image of Celebrity Reflection – MarineTraffic

A passenger went overboard from the AIDAluna cruise ship this morning, according to numerous German news sources.

The AIDAluna left Hamburg, Germany on August 29th and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on September 14th. It was scheduled to arrive in St. Johns, Newfoundland around 2:00 P.M. today.

AIDA Cruises identified the passenger to be Daniel Küblböck, a former German “idol” singer / celebrity. The cruise line stated that 33 year-old Mr.  Küblböck allegedly jumped off the German cruise ship around 6 A.M. this morning, according to a tweet the cruise line sent earlier today.

AIDAluna turned the cruise ship around to conduct a search. Another cruise ship, HAL’s Zuiderdam, participated in the search.

AIDA Cruises has been in the news lately after German newspapers reported that a 53 year-old crew member went overboard from the AIDAbella cruise ship under mysterious circumstances earlier this year.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 320 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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Photo credit: Huhu Uet – CC BY 3.0,  commons / wikimedia.