Falling Off A Cruise Ship

Another tragic story this week – a Texas man fell off a cruise ship. A search is underway. I’m sure all of us send our thoughts to his family.

Here’s the issue: I’m pretty sure nobody ever falls off a cruise ship. I just finished my twelfth cruise last week, and they’ve all been on Norwegian and the missing passenger was on a Royal Caribbean ship, but I’m pretty sure I can say he didn’t fall.

It’s easy to say someone fell off a ship, but it also moves the implied blame to the cruise line. Apparently, Royal Caribbean has ships that passengers can fall from. We have spent too much of the past few years moving blame to innocent parties.

Why don’t people fall off cruise ships? Mainly, because cruise ships are designed to keep people on board. There are railings everywhere along the outside decks, and it takes work to get over them. There are partitions underneath, so you can’t just slide under. Some decks don’t have any open areas at all.  It’s not like you can just walk up to the edge of the ship, trip and fall overboard. You can climb up and try to balance on the railings because your idiot friends bet you that you couldn’t, and fall off the railing, but that’s stupidity or drunkeness, not a fall. You can climb over and jump off the railing, but that’s suicide (and there are probably easier ways to commit suicide.)

In this case, I just looked at the deck plans, and deck ten on The Navigator of the Seas is all cabins – private rooms – and the outside cabins have balconies. Balconies have railings. I’ve been in a balcony cabin. You can’t fall off a balcony without some work.

So, this is tragic, as it always is when a life is potentially lost, and it is also sloppy reporting or at least an extremely poor choice of words. (It’s also sloppy to say Royal Caribbean built the ship. Cruise lines purchase and operate ships. Shipyards build them for the cruise lines. Does American build their own airplanes?)

Coincidentally, before I heard about the accident, I had attended a Q&A session with the senior officers on the Norwegian Jade, and someone asked the Captain about what happens in a man overboard situation. The question actually was “Has anyone fallen off the ship?” One of his first statements was “Nobody falls off a ship.”

In a man overboard situation, the ship’s crew will drop flares to mark the approximate spot, turn the ship around (which may take some time – it can take a mile or more to stop a cruise ship) and launch a life boat or tender to do a search. In cases where the ship is within range, the crew can ask the Coast Guard for help – helicopters and planes search a wide area faster.

The Captain of the Jade made it clear that the sooner it’s reported, the better the chances of finding and saving the missing person. This should be obvious to almost anyone, but apparently, some people on cruises are idiots.  That is the real reason you can have a man overboard.

A Royal Caribbean ship has a man overboard. The Coast Guard is assisting in the search for him. I know it’s hard on his loved ones, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t fall.