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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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.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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

German newspapers are reporting that a crewmember, identified by his first name as “Mathias,” disappeared from the AIDAbella cruise ship earlier this year.

The Bild newspaper was the first publication to mention that an investigation is underway to explain the disappearance of the German crew member from the AIDA cruise ship in February of this year.

Six and one-half months ago, on February 22nd, crew member Mathias went over the rails as the cruise ship was sailing in Malaysian waters. The crew member last communicated with his wife, Gabi, early on February 21st when they exchanged text messages. Another German newspaper writes that Gabi then sent “three more messages to his cell phone – they all remain unanswered. After two long, worrisome days of uncertainty, Gabi . . . received a phone call from the Aida hiring manager and a pastor telling her that her husband has jumped” off of the cruise ship.

The German press asks “what happened in the 27 hours between Mathias’s last message and his death?” When Mathias’ wife finally received her husband’s suitcase two weeks later, she reportedly found blood stains on many of its contents, such as on a T-shirt, pairs of trousers and shoes, and his laptop and iPad.

AIDA claims that  Mathias cut his wrists but his wife asks the Bild newspaper how he somehow walked from deck 3 to deck 5 without anyone noticing the bleeding and without a trace of blood being documented?

I first read about the disappearance from cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, who has documented 320 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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

Photo credit: Maciek Godlewski – CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

 

Rowan Moore, a journalist for The Guardian newspaper in London, used the words “misery machines” in describing giant cruise ships in an opinion piece last Sunday. He writes:

Giant cruise ships look to me like misery machines. They don’t make residents happy in the places they visit. They don’t make their crews happy, if you are to believe the recurring allegations of mistreatment of staff . . .”

I posted the article on Facebook and Twitter. The push back from cruise passengers was instant. “Cruise lines enjoy 93+% customer satisfaction. That’s better than chocolate companies!!” posted a Facebook follower, echoing the common view of cruising from the perspective of cruise fans.

That’s the common reaction on social media whenever I write about the harsh employment conditions which crew members face on cruise ships. Many cruise passengers who read this blog could not care less.

Unfortunately, the same seems to be true when it comes to members of the U.S. Congress. If the problem does not involve a local constituent, most members of Congress will not give you the time of day. The nativist / anti-immigrant mentality promoted by the current administration has made it more difficult to defend the rights of “foreign” (i.e., non-U.S.) crew members who comprise the overwhelming majority of cruise ship employees.

I’ve attended hearings in Washington D.C. regarding the issue of cruise safety where the cruise industry has testified that that 95% of people who cruise have a positive experience. No doubt. Pampered by cabin attendants, waiters and bartenders, cruise guests enjoy the unrealistically inexpensive cruise fares offered by a cruise industry which pays no taxes and escapes U.S. wages and labor regulations by registering their businesses and ships in places like Liberia, Panama and the Bahamas.

As long as the cruise leaves and returns on time and doesn’t break down in between, most cruise guests are not concerned about what happens behind the scenes, whether it is overworked, underpaid and stressed-out crew members or sludge illegally dumped at sea.

No one cares to take a satisfaction survey of crew members.

Life on board a foreign flagged behemoth is no box of chocolates for the crew, despite the high guest satisfaction rating. The Guardian’s “misery machines” expression was the first thing I thought of earlier this week when I read the articles which several readers of this blog sent me about the death of a twenty-two year old Serbian man on the Carnival Fascination.

The man was described as a 22 year-old Serbian man named Nikola Arnautovic.

How unbelievably sad that a young man of only 22 years, just one year younger and one year older than my own two boys, would end his life at such an age.

But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that suicides of crew members are hardly rare.

A British chef was found hanging in his cabin aboard the Crystal Serenity cruise ship several years ago.  Two weeks earlier, a safety officer on the Disney Dream committed suicide in a similar manner. And the day before that, a woman in Carnival’s entertainment department was found hanging in an officer’s quarters on the Carnival Sensation.

The popular Crew Center website, which first indicated that the recent death on the Carnival Fascination involved a crew member, reported that an Indian dishwasher on the Costa Magica was found hanging in his cabin in February 2017. A galley worker also committed suicide a few years earlier on the Island Princess by hanging.  He reportedly died in the first month of his first contract on the Princess Cruises’ ship. The Crew Center reported that, according to some crew members, he committed suicide because of the “enormous stress and pressure by his supervisors.”

Of course, most crew members do not end their lives by hanging themselves. Most ship employees who choose to end their lives do so by jumping overboard.  During a period of less than three years between December 2009 and October 2012, at least twelve crew members jumped overboard or simply disappeared from cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises. I wrote about the problem in an article titled “Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?”  The grueling schedule and long hours crew members are required to work 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of a 6 to 10 month contract, for far less than the U.S. minimum wage, often leave ship employees, who are already isolated from their families, exhausted and demoralized.

In the past decade, many dozens of crew members have jumped into the sea. The common reaction by guests is pointlessly “you can’t fall from a cruise ship” as if casting blame on the dead crew member will somehow solve the problem.

Mental health services for cruise ship employees are non-existent. And the  emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S. Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community. Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the “foreign” crew members receive is more than the workers can receive back home. “If they don’t like the work, they can quit” is the common saying.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the “safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority,” there seems to be little genuine expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

In the last week, yet another crew member disappeared from another cruise ship. He was a Filipino, by the name of  Rezan Monteroso from the M/S Amsterdam. Mr. Monteroso had been aboard the Amsterdam for just 5 days when he went overboard, leaving behind a wife and family with young children.

There are no news articles anywhere mentioning Mr. Monterosa’s name (or the names of dozens of other crew members who have gone overboard before him), or explaining the circumstances surrounding his last days or hours.

Mr. Monterosa’s disappearance seems altogether too familiar – the ship had no automatic man overboard system and the notification to the Coast Guard and ensuing search were unreasonably delayed; there were no discussions about the need for mental health counselling or support from the cruise line following the soon-to-be-forgotten story; HAL reportedly shut off the feeds to the monitors on the ship when the ship finally realized that Ms. Monterosa went overboard, leaving the passengers in the dark as to what happened to the crew member; there seemed to be more guests asking about compensation for the “inconvenience” of a delayed arrival at the next port than any inquiry regarding why the Filipino employee went overboard in the first place. And no one seems to be making any efforts to even discuss making changes to reduce the likelihood of losing additional crew members at sea like this.

As matters now stand, crew members from around the world, from places like Serbia and the Philippines, have little support from the cruise industry and none from the U.S. government. It seems that when crew members jump overboard or hang themselves, the cruise lines couldn’t care less either, as long as it doesn’t affect their customer’s satisfaction rating.

Rest in Peace Mr. Monterosa and Mr. Arnautovic and prayers to your surviving families and friends.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo credit: M/S Amsterdam – Crew Center

A passenger from a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship has gone overboard in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the National Parks Traveler nonprofit media organization.

The Park Service issued a press release Saturday night that it had suspended its search for the missing passenger who reportedly disappeared from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship late Friday afternoon.  According to the press release, the sixty-nine year-old man was reported missing at 3:50 p.m. on Friday when he did not appear for a medical appointment on board the ship, a park release said. It is unclear when the passenger actually went overboard. KTUU reports that the man went overboard sometime on Friday morning.

The Park Service was notified 7:30 Friday evening after a ship-wide search confirmed that the HAL Westerdampassenger was missing from the cruise ship.

The Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches via vessels and/or aircraft.

There is no information regarding exactly when or where along the 65-mile Glacier Bay the man went overboard.

This appears to be another situation where the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately notify the bridge when a person went over the rails and then track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging. The officers on the HAL cruise ship apparently had to order a search of the ship to look for the passenger. HAL has not released any public information regarding whether CCTV captured images of the man going overboard.

According to Canadian Professor Ross Klein, there have been 316 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 15 people have gone overboard during the first six and one-half months of this year. Nine people have gone overboard from HAL cruise ships in the last eight and one-half years.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

July 17, 2018 Update: The National Parks Traveler writes that the passenger went overboard around 6:45 AM, according to HAL PR executive Sally Andrews. This means that there was a delay of nearly 13 hours between the passenger going overboard and the cruise line finally notifying the park service (around 7:30 PM), which is another compelling reason why cruise ships should have automatic man overboard systems installed. I previously mentioned Ms. Andrews in an article many years ago titled “Suicide” – One of the Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Photo credit: Roger Wollstadt CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard early this morning from the Seven Seas Mariner.

The cruise ship was returning, eventually, to Vancouver from a cruise to ports in Alaska. The ship was sailing to Victoria on the 10th day of an 11-day Alaska cruise which began in Vancouver on June 30th.  The cruise ship apparently first realized that the passenger had gone overboard when the ship was just north of Cape Flattery, at the northwestern tip of Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.

The captain of the cruise ship reportedly told the Coast Guard that video footage showed a passenger jumping into the sea from an eighth-deck balcony at 4:15 a.m.  AIS data shows that the cruise ship Man Overboard Seven Seas Mariner Cruisehas turned around and has sailed to the northwest apparently in search for the overboard passenger.

Shortly after releasing information about how the passenger went overboard, the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest district in the tweeted:

“In previous post, the word “jump” was used, however we have NO indication of why the individual went overboard. Investigation will help determine what happened. Again, we have NO CLEAR info on what lead to him going overboard; crews actively searching at this time.”

In this case, the Coast Guard has at least accurately reported that the passenger went overboard earlier this morning.  In the last overboard cruise ship case, the Coast Guard erroneously reported that a crew member was seen going overboard from the Norwegian Getaway at 3:20 PM (which is when NCL finally realized that he was missing from the ship) when he actually went into the water at least 12 hours earlier.

The Seattle Times reports that the 73 year-old man’s wife “was awakened around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday by “a breeze coming from the balcony door cracked open” and discovered her husband missing, the Coast Guard said in one of several early-morning tweets about the rescue effort.” It is less than clear if and when the guest’s wife reported her husband missing to the ship’s crew.

This case is another example of a cruise ship where apparently no automatic man overboard system was installed. Such a system would immediately trigger an alarm in the bridge when someone goes over the railings and then track the person in the water through state-of-the-art infrared and radar technology. Without such a system, the ship has to look through CCTV film to see if it sheds light on if and when a passenger or crew member went overboard. The result is a delayed response and a huge search grid to be searched by Coast Guard aircraft and vessels.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 314 people have gone overboard since 2000.

Update: Unfortunately, according to KOMO News the passenger was found, unconscious. He was flown to a Port Angeles hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Photo credits: Top – MarineTraffic; bottom – KOMO.

Seven Seas Mariner Man Overboard