Several passengers aboard the Royal Princess cruise ship have informed Cruise Law News that a passenger fell from an upper deck and struck a lifeboat last night.

One passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated:

“A women on royal princess princess cruise line was pushed or fell from the lido 15th or 16th deck onto the top of  life boat #2 at 4 am in the morning. She died instantly. Once the ship arrived into Aruba, authorities boarded the ship. Outcome of investigation is unknown. Passengers said the scene was gruesome.”

Passenger were first alerted to the incident when they heard an announcement around 4:30 a.m. for the security team to respond to deck 7 underneath lifeboat number 2. When the cruise ship arrived at port in Aruba, the captain made an announcement that the crime scene investigators were coming on board and no one would be allowed to get off until they cleared the ship.

Mas Noticia refers to the incident as a “possible murder.”

Last July (of 2017), the FBI arrested the husband of a  a 39-year-old woman who was murdered aboard the Emerald Princess operated by Princess Cruises in Alaska. Earlier this year, the boyfriend of a 50 year-old woman was arrested for murder aboard the Carnival Elation after he threw her off their balcony to a lifeboat below. Last month a passenger was arrested after he tried to throw his partner off of the Radiance of the Seas in Australia.

Is a cruise ship a perfect place to commit a crime?

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Update: Diario.aw reports that a “muscular” man was struggling/fighting with the woman, and suddenly began choking her. After that, he reportedly pushed her over the railing. She fell on lifeboat #2, destroying the windows on the lifeboat as well. The authorities in Aruba will perform an autopsy, to determine whether the man killed her first (by choking her) or she died because of the fall.

November 15, 2018 Update: Local 10 News (Miami): “FBI investigating after woman dies aboard cruise ship en route to Aruba.” Finally, the U.S. press cover this disturbing, apparent rime.

November 16, 2018 Update: Numerous newspapers are now reporting on the apparent murder, including the U.K.’s Mail Online (photo above right).

Photo credit: Barry Skeates – via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A cruise passenger on board Holland America Line’s Maasdam was killed on November 7th when she slipped and fell between a tender and the HAL cruise ship. At the time of the incident, the ship was in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

The source of the information is a passenger, wishing to remain anonymous, who stated that: . . . the seas were very rough and it was debatable whether we should have been tendering at all. She was traveling by herself. It would appear that this incident is being covered up. The safety on this ship is rather haphazard.”

The passenger later stated that “the tender service was definitely operated by HAL. The staff members were offered counseling by phone.  I am particularly surprised how unsafe it is on their tenders . . . This particular day was the roughest I have ever seen at sea.  It was definitely not safe and that poor lady paid the ultimate price.”

The Maasdam is currently sailing on a 28 night “Polynesian & South Seas Sampler” cruise.

Cruise lines have a legal duty to exercise a minimum of reasonable care while transferring passengers to and from their cruise ships. A passenger was killed three and one-half years ago when she fell between the tender and the Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth. Eight years ago, a passenger was seriously injured when she fell trying to exit from a tender ferrying passengers to Grand Cayman from a Carnival cruise ship. Seven and one-half years ago, a woman died when she was dropped during a transfer from the Ocean Countess operated by  Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

The case is likely to be governed by the Death on the High Seas Act (“DOHSA”), which limits the recovery only to “pecuniary” (i.e., financial) damages.  Any surviving family members, such as a spouse or children, are not entitled under the terms of DOHSA to recover emotional damages such as grief, bereavement and emotional distress. If the woman is retired and not a wage earner, her family will be limited to just burial expenses.

DOHSA is one of the most antiquated, cruelest and completely callous laws imaginable.

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November 12, 2018 update: A passenger on the cruise left the following comment on our Facebook page: “We were on that cruise and witnessed how unsafe the tendering operation were conducted.The tragedy of this event is that the captain did cover the fatal accident from the passengers and did not properly informed us about what had happened. This gives people reason to gossip and speculate about the real cause of the accident. On that day in Rarotonga the sea was very rough and there were no extra activities from the crew to make sure that tendering operations went safer. The state of tenders on HAL was below criticism.”

November 13, 2018 a.m. update: Newsweek is reporting on the fatality.

November 13, 2018 p.m. update: The Maasdam returned to Rarotonga today, but the master announced that due to rough conditions the ship is unable to tender ashore. A passenger stated “funny, it’s a lot calmer than the other day” (when the passenger died). A photo of the weather conditions today:

The local newspaper (Cook Islands News) reported on the incident.

November 14, 2018 Update: HAL touts itself today in a press release for winning the best cruise line for  shore excursions in a reader’s choice award from Porthole magazine, just a week after a guest was killed during a shore excursion.

Photo credit: Top -M/S/ Maasdam via Holland America Line

Middle and bottom – Maasdam tender – anonymous.

A passenger reportedly died following a fall aboard the Grand Classica cruise ship operated by the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line according to several sources.

WPTV in West Palm Beach reports that the Grand Classica contacted the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday evening when an unidentified passenger fell and was injured on the cruise ship after it left the Port of Palm Beach heading toward Freeport.

The Coast Guard medevaced the passenger from the cruise ship to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where hospital staff pronounced him dead.

The news stations report that another passenger on the ship stated that the the man fell to his death, but the cruise line has not confirmed that account.

A passenger on the cruise commented on Facebook, “I heard code blue I ran to the staircase where everyone was huddled … I saw a pool
of blood … they were wiping the blood like nothing.”

After the medevac, the cruise ship then resumed sailing to Grand Bahama Island.

U.S. News & World Report reports that a Coast Guard spokesman, John Lally, stated that the passenger fell while on the Grand Classica.

Spokesman Lally stated that a Coast Guard crew met met the ship about 13 miles east of the Port of Palm Beach and brought the man back to shore.

October 13, 2018 Update: The Palm Beach Post and People Magazine identified the man as Christopher McGrory, age 29, who was celebrating his bachelor party with friends on the cruise ship at the time of the incident.

Screen Grab: WPTV

Yesterday, a man from Topeka, Kansas was arraigned in United States District Court on charges of murdering his wife during a Carnival cruise earlier this year.

On January 19, 2018, a passenger on the Carnival Elation sent us photographs of the couple’s cabin and the area where the woman fell to her death. You can see the photographs here.

The woman reportedly died after she fell from her balcony on the 14th deck down to the 11th deck on the Carnival cruise ship which has sailed from Jacksonville to Freeport, in the Bahamas.

In our article at the time, we mentioned that a passenger reportedly was seen handcuffed after the incident. Police from Freeport boarded the cruise ship after the fatality.

The U.S. Department of Justice identified  Eric Newman, age 53, of Topeka, Kansas and charged him with murdering his wife,  Tamara Tucker, age 50, of Lawson, Missouri (photo below). The DOJ press release does not mention any details regarding the murder (I have not yet reviewed the on line court file).

The last domestic murder case on a cruise ship occurred on the Emerald Princess last summer.  The United States District Court for the District of Alaska recently announced that the case against Kenneth Manzanares will go on trial in May of next year.

The last murder of a passenger on this particular Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Elation, occurred in 2011 when a drunken passenger killed his wife during a cruise to Mexico.  We have written about other cruise ship murders (typically of women) during cruises in the past.

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September 10, 2018 Update: The U.S. government filed a “sealed” indictment against Eric Newman, which mean that the usual FBI affidavits and/or other information will not be revealed to the public at this time.  The court records indicate that Mr. Newman is accused of murdering Tamara Tucker with “malice aforethought.” Ms. Tucker has been described in new accounts as Mr. Newman’s long term girlfriend.

September 18, 2018 Update: Mr. Newman is free on bond after a detention hearing in Federal Court today. A spokesman for the federal government says Newman is free on a $50,000 bond, and under house arrest pending what could be months before a trial, according to KSNT.com.

Carnival Elation (top) – anonymous; Eric and Tamara Newman (in happier times)(above) – Facebook.

Carnival Vista Several passenger who disembarked from the Carnival Vista today stated that there was a suspicious death on the cruise ship near the end of the eight day cruise leaving from and returning to Miami.

One of the passengers stated that yesterday (Saturday) there was an announcement over the ship’s intercom where a passenger’s name (which I will keep anonymous) was repeatedly paged to report to guest services. The ship was approximately 20 miles from Cuba at the time. 

"I just debarked from Carnival Vista. There was a death on the 6th floor and they kept someone inside their cabin with security not allowing them to leave the room . . . There was a man with a black jacket that said “Security” sitting outside of the door with a walkie talkie and a clip board with a pen."   

The passenger sent me a number of photos and videos which she took of the of the cabin door sealed with a sign which stated: "DO NOT ENTER This is a secured area and can only be entered with authorization by the Captain or Staff Captain"

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Photo credit: Passenger Carnival Vista passenger (anonymous) 

Adriana Morales de FlorencioThe killer of Royal Caribbean crew member Adriana Morales de Florencia was sentenced to prison for her murder. There is a conflict in the reporting whether the sentence was for 22 years or 17 years. 

In April of 2017, Ms. Morales was reported missing on the island of Bonaire after disembarking for Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, as we reported last year.  She was from Mexico and had worked for Royal Caribbean for less than two contracts. She did not return to the cruise ship after going ashore in the port of Kralendijk last year. Her body was found buried and it was established that she died by stab wounds. A suspect was later identified by a surveillance film. 

Newspaper accounts in Bonaire identified a man who met Ms. Morales shortly after she left the cruise ship. He has been identified only through an acronym; some accounts refer to him as "Raysley S." According to newspapers in Bonaire, the prosecutor presented aggravating circumstances during the sentencing. The computer data  showed that in the days before and after the killing, he looked at extremely violent pornographic films and photographs.

Another article posted this week indicated that the judge sentenced the defendant to just 17 years in jail.

Photo credit: De Telegraaf

Carnival Elation DeathEarlier this afternoon, a guest traveling aboard a Carnival ship died after falling from the balcony of her cabin, according to a passenger aboard the cruise ship.

The woman reportedly died after she fell from her balcony on the 14th deck down to the 11th deck on the Carnival Elation cruise ship.

The death was confirmed by Carnival who said that "a guest fell from her balcony to several decks below," according to New4Jax.

The Carnival Elation departed yesterday from Jacksonville on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.

A passenger sent me photographs which he took on the cruise ship, including of an area on deck 11 which had been roped off. The passenger commented that the woman was apparently celebrating her birthday. Another passenger reportedly was seen handcuffed after the incident. Police from Freeport, Bahamas reportedly boarded the ship after the fatality. 

You can see additional photos from the cruise ship here.

In October of last year, a 8 year-old girl died after falling from a deck in an interior atrium to a lower deck on the Carnival Glory.

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January 22, 2018 Update: The Daily Mail referenced this article. 

Carnival GloryA 8 year-old girl died Saturday morning after falling from a deck in an interior atrium to a lower deck on the Carnival Glory

A representative of Miami Fire-Rescue Department said the child fell "about two stories" inside the Carnival cruise ship around 8:15 a.m. after the ship had returned from a cruise in the Caribbean and Mexico and had docked at the port of Miami. Photos taken after the accident posted online show the atrium lobby with railings and glass panels around the interior decks. 

The child apparently went over the rails while the family was in the process of using the atrium elevator to disembark from the ship. 

A passenger (a retired emergency medical technician) reportedly performed CPR on the girl, until the ship doctor arrived.  Fire-Rescue paramedics then transported her to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in "extremely critical condition." 

A Miami-Dade police detective later reported the child had died. Police indicated that they would work with the cruise line "to determine the details surrounding this incident," according to Local News 10 in Miami. 

This is not the first time that a child was fallen from an upper deck on a cruise ship. Six weeks ago, a 3-year-old girl fell from the balcony of the Carnival Breeze which was heading back to Galveston, Texas. The child survived the fall.  Several years ago, a one-year-old child crawled through an 12th floor railing and fell to the pool deck below on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas

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October 17, 2017 Update: 

Miami Herald: Girl, 8, got on ‘tippy toes’ to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death.

Photo credit: Mark Dennis CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.; video credit: Local News 10 Miami. 

 

 

According to multiple news sources, the FBI is investigating the death of a 39-year-old woman from Utah aboard the Emerald Princess operated by Princess Cruises in Alaska.

The woman reportedly died aboard he Princess cruise ship after a "domestic dispute" leading to her "suspicious" death.

The cruise ship was diverted to Juneau, Alaska because of the criminal investigation, according to ABC News.

The FBI has special maritine jurisdiction to investigate crime at sea whenever a U.S. citizen is a victim or the assailant. 

July 27, 2017 Update: TIME magazine reports that the the U.S. attorney’s office will hold a news conference later today with representatives of the FBI and Coast Guard in Anchorage to announce the filing of federal criminal charges against the suspect arrested yesterday by the FBI.

Jully 29, 2017 Update: CBS News Couple in Alaska cruise ship murder seemed like "perfect American family."

 Credits: photo KTVA. 

  

Congress introduced legislation on Wednesday which will strengthen the rights of cruise passengers to seek compensation when cruise lines negligently cause the death of their loved ones on the high seas.

As matters now stand, the statute which governs deaths in international waters, the Death on the High Seas Act ("DOSHA"), bars the recovery of emotional damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, when a passenger dies outside of state territorial waters. This means that when a non-wage earner, such as a retiree or a child, dies due to a cruise line’s negligence, their surviving family members can recover only very limited compensation, usually only burial and funeral expenses.

Proposed improvements to the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, if enacted, would permit the families of Miami Cruise Linespassengers who die on ships in international waters as a result of the negligence of a cruise line to seek "non-pecuniary" compensation, as permitted by most states, such as damages for grief and bereavement. 

Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Congressman Ted Poe and Congressman Jim Himes sponsored the legislation in the House of Representatives, while Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Edward Markey sponsored similar legislation in the Senate. You can read a press statement by Congresswoman Matsui here and the statement of  Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Himes here.

Congress originally enacted DOSHA back in 1920 when few state wrongful deaths statutes permitted family members to recover damages for the emotional suffering experienced by family members who lose a loved one. Since then, the majority os states have substantially improved their statutes to permit the full recovery of emotional damages. In 2000, Congress amended DOHSA to permit damages in commercial aviation accidents which occur in international waters. DOSHA used to bar emotional damages in such cases.

At the moment, DOHSA remains the same in maritime cases as when it was enacted 97 years ago. The proposed amendments to DOSHA will ensure that families of victims at sea are provided with the same rights as airline passengers.and are finally able to pursue fair compensation. 

Kelly Hammer Lankford and Jill Hammer Malott, the daughters of Larry and Christy Hammer, who perished during a deadly river cruise fire last year, are part of the efforts to amend DOSHA. Their parents died aboard the Estrella Amazonica, operated by International Expeditions of Alabama, on the Amazon River in Peru. International Expeditions is trying to dodge accountability by using DOSHA as a liability shield. (International Expeditions subsequently renamed the ill-fated La Estrella Amazonica as the Amazon Star). The daughters commented on the proposed legislation, saying:

“We are thrilled that our legislators are trying to do what the cruise companies have not: Protect passengers. Through legislative reform, American travelers would finally be able to hold cruise companies accountable when tragedy strikes, stopping these companies from hiding behind an antiquated law to avoid responsibility for their actions.”

The cruise industry, which has lobbied heavily against efforts to reform the antiquated maritime statute, is expected to resist the proposed legislation.

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Photo Credit: Jim Walker

April 28, 2017 Update: The Miami New Times covered the story in Congress Introduces New Cruise Ship Safety Regulations.