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 passenger 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.
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.