USA Today travel reported that a passenger on the Norwegian Cruise Lines passenger cruise ship the Norwegian Spirit somehow fell overboard while the ship was traveling down the Mississippi river heading toward the Gulf of Mexico on a seven day cruise to the Western Caribbean.
Fortunately, immediate rescue efforts resulted in a successful recovery of the passenger.
I have previously reported about passengers going overboard and disappearing on cruise ships. Although it seems like a far fetch occurrence, it does occur with a much greater frequency than one would expect. There are many possible causes linked to disappearances and over board situations involving passengers and crew. A common theory utilized by the cruise ship companies when there is no direct evidence to prove what happen is that the passenger or crewmember committed suicide. This assertion has often been made in the past despite any evidence to support the assertion that the passenger or crew member committed suicide.
In the past it appeared that suicide was the best explanation for a cruise line company to assert even if there is possible foul play involved. This took away any focus on the cruiseline regarding safety concerns or dangers. For example, our firm handled the case of the missing honeymooner, George Smith, who went missing during his honeymoon cruise on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean. Initially, there were reports that he might have committed suicide despite no proof for that assertion. It was later determined that there were circumstances suggesting foul play as the reason for the disappearance. In fact, a full blown FBI investigation took place, and the case is still an open file. The FBI indicated most likely foul play was likely involved in the disappearance of George Smith, even though no definitive conclusion was ever made and no prosecution against anyone has ever taken place for the disappearance. Our firm represented the parents of George Smith in their claims against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and in their efforts to obtain information regarding his disappearance.
Our efforts in bringing to light information regarding the disappearance of George Smith to the public and to Congress resulted in several congressional hearings addressing shipboard security and safety. Ultimately, these hearings resulted in passage of legislation designed to improve reporting requirements of the cruise lines when passengers or crewmembers go missing, as well as increase the safety and security of millions of passengers who board cruise ships in the United States on a yearly basis.
At this time, Norwegian Cruise Lines did not issue any statements regarding the cause of the passenger falling overboard. We have noticed in the recent past that cruise lines are much more hesitant to associate a cause to a disappearance or an overboard situation during the initial report of the occurrence.
Other theories that are often given for the disappearances in overboard situations, other than suicide, include foul play as well as intoxication due to the heavy consumption of alcohol that takes place on cruise ships. We have emphasized the need for better control of the service of alcohol onboard cruise ships. We even blogged about one cruise line that was starting a policy of all you can drink, an option that could be purchased by a passenger for a cruise, providing all the liquor a passenger could drink for one set price in advance. We pointed out the potential dangers from such a policy on the safety of the passengers. This prompted Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims to contact Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines directly to ask them about this particular policy, questioning the safety of such a policy. Kendall Carver continues to continuously and tirelessly push for additional safety measures to be taken aboard cruise ships, and has been doing so since he tragically lost his daughter who went missing aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
I had the pleasure of assisting Kendall Carver when he initially formed International Cruise Victims, and the pleasure of being an invited speaker at the initial congressional hearings addressing safety onboard cruise ships. Our firm continues to be cruise ship and boating safety advocates, assisting those who have been injured or killed at sea.