Officials are investigating another cruise ship passenger lost at sea. Why Kaylyn Rose Sommer fell overboard from the Norwegian Pearl is still a mystery. According to the Coast Guard, the 24-year-old woman from Charleston, South Carolina, went overboard while the cruise ship was just 22 miles off the coast of Cuba.
The NCL cruise ship was chartered for a four-day event called the “Mad Decent Boat Party,” featuring world-famous DJs like Skrillex, Diplo, Major Lazer, Grandtheft, Dillon Francis, Party Favor, and Jauz. The cruise ship was supposed to sail from MIami to Cozumel.
Officials are now claiming that Ms. Sommer, a mother of a young daughter, who ironically was married on the very same ship the year before, was seen “intentionally going overboard”–falling 80 feet into the sea.
NCL issued a formal statement indicating that Ms. Sommer had intentionally jumped overboard into the Yucatan Channel and that it had notified the Coast Guard at approximately 7:00 PM that a passenger had gone overboard. The search for her was called off after several days.
Partial refunds to passengers were issued by NCL and Mad Decent, but passengers are understandably unhappy with the amount. According to reports from TMZ, the cruise cost $1000 a ticket, but NCL returned only $57.47 per passenger. NCL claims that it would refund only the cost of the cancelled excursion plus port taxes, but everything else is “non-refundable.”
As lawyer who sues cruise lines like NCL, I think this is wrong. Since the cruise never made it to Mexico for its scheduled stop for an all-day open-bar party on the coast, passengers did not get what they had paid for.
Notwithstanding the loss of Ms. Sommer, the party-like atmosphere aboard the ship continued at sea, and apparently the DJs performed as planned.
We may never know why Ms. Sommer fell or jumped off the ship, but there seem to be an alarming and increasing number of situations with passengers overboard this year. Cruise ships are huge floating resorts, with thousands of passengers and crewmembers, and lots of alcohol and partying night and day. They are meant to be fun and can be one of the best ways to enjoy a holiday in the sun and on the sea.
We express our condolences to Ms. Sommer’s family and hope that both passengers and cruise line owners will consider how important it is to be put safety first. Technological devices are available to help locate people who fall overboard, but most cruise lines still refuse to purchase them.
New regulations enacted by the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 require cruise ships built after 2010 to employ technology that can capture images of passengers who have fallen overboard. I wonder if NCL had this equipment on the Pearl. In addition, with available smartwatch technology, why can’t passengers be provided or rented smartwatches that will signal their location to the bridge if they fall overboard?
Passengers who are injured on a Norwegian Cruise ship are required to file a written notice with a full account of the claim within 185 days of the date of the incident. NCL has had much success getting cases dismissed when passengers fail to comply with this time limit. Moreover, a lawsuit against NCL–as well as the other major cruise lines, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, and Disney–must be filed in Federal Court within one year of the date of the incident.
These time limits have been strictly upheld by the Federal judges. Therefore, we recommend that if you have been injured on a cruise ship anywhere in the world–by a slip, trip, or fall, sexual assault, or any other type of accident–you should consult with an experienced maritime accident attorney as soon as possible.
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