A 43-year-old man jumped overboard from a Carnival Cruise ship over the weekend, resulting in a massive search that has now been called off. The incident occurred just after midnight on Saturday as Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras was approaching the Florida coast. At the time, the vessel was approximately 55 miles east of Port Canaveral.

The U.S. Coast Guard immediately initiated a search, calling in two cutters and an airplane to find the 43-year-old male passenger. The cruise ship Elation also participated in the search. However, their efforts to locate the man have been unsuccessful, and the U.S. Coast Guard has reportedly called off their search for the man.

This incident is not an isolated one for Carnival Cruise Lines. Just last month, a guest jumped overboard from the Carnival Horizon vessel after it departed Miami. That man’s body, however, was located.

Falls overboard, can occur for a number of reasons, whether those reasons involve alcohol, domestic violence, or deliberate acts of taking one’s own life. As soon as a fall is reported, crew members are alerted, and an alarm is sounded. Every cruise line has its own specific protocols for alerting the ship’s crew regarding the person going overboard, although most are fairly similar in content.

Once the alarm is sounded, the vessel slows down and will return to the location of the incident. The crew will also closely review security footage of the incident to get more details as to where it occurred and where the person could be located. The Coast Guard is immediately notified, as are other nearby ports and vessels.

If the person can be located, a lifeboat or emergency boat is deployed to obtain the individual. The person will receive immediate medical care due to the harsh conditions of deep ocean water that can quickly result in injuries from water inhalation, exposure, and hypothermia. It is also these harsh conditions that quickly result in a fatality from a person falling overboard.

Approximately 20 to 30 overboard incidents are reported ever year. Given the fact that nearly 1 million passengers safely enjoy cruise vacations, this number is actually quite small. However, when a fall overboard occurs, the event can be quite traumatizing for passengers on that vessel.

It is for this reason that crew members will do anything possible to keep all passengers calm during the search for the overboard passenger. The area where the fall occurred will be roped off, and any passenger who happened to observe what happened will be interviewed.

If it is unclear whether a fall has occurred, the crew will conduct a headcount or accounting of all passengers and crew to determine if someone is missing. If the search takes a significant amount of time, the next port of call may be missed, or the time spent at the port may be cut short. If a major disruption in the itinerary results due to the search, the passengers may receive some type of compensation for their inconvenience.

When a passenger falls overboard from a cruise ship, the results are almost always deadly. The family members of passengers who die while on a cruise ship may have a viable legal claim against the cruise line when the death occurs because of the negligence or carelessness of the cruise line or its medical team. However, the law that covers these incidents is complex and governed primarily by an 1886 statute called the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA).

As a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA), I frequently attend seminars that provide information regarding the latest available technology in man overboard detection systems. Yet most ships still do not use them.

One reason the cruise industry seems to ignore the regulation requiring MOB technology may be due to the ‘‘Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010’’ which only requires ships that are built after 2010 to be equipped with this technology.

§ 3507 Section D of the Act states that…vessels … built after 2010…shall integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.

Remember most cruise lines require written notice of a potential claim within 180 days of the incident and that a lawsuit be filed here in Miami in Federal Court within one year of the accident regardless of where in the world the incident may have occurred.


Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault, or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well-funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship injury lawyer about your potential claim. We are ready to help.

Related Resources:

Man jumps overboard from Carnival Cruise Line ship 55 miles off Florida coast – CBS News What Happens During a Cruise Ship Overboard? (cruisehive.com)