Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Passenger Falls

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Passenger Falls Overboard and Vanishes off Coast of South Carolina

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 41-year-old man who fell overboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, just before Christmas. The cruise ship was 127 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday night when the incident occurred. Coast Guard crews searched more than 1,625 square miles over eight hours, according to the Coast Guard in Charleston.

The Vision of the Seas departed Baltimore on Friday and made its first stop in Orlando on Sunday, arriving in the Bimini Islands on Christmas Day, according to the cruise itinerary. 

Passengers were alerted just after 7 p.m. Saturday, when an announcement saying “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar, Starboard” was made over the ship’s loudspeakers, according to a passenger. 

Last month, a 28-year-old man jumped from a Carnival cruise ship bound for Jamaica. The Coast Guard searched over 5,600 miles, but he was never found.

How Common is it for People to Fall Overboard on a Cruise Ship?

Cruise vacations are supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, but unfortunately, accidents can happen, and one of the most serious incidents that can occur is a passenger falling overboard. According to Conde Nast, roughly 90% of overboard cases result in death. Many statistics regarding overboard cases are not made public by cruise lines, and thus the severity of this type of situation might even be more pressing and frequent than currently understood.

Alcohol, foul play, or suicide are the most frequent causes; but often it is simply impossible to discover the truth. Fortunately, technology exists to sound alerts when a passenger goes overboard. These systems called MOB Detection Devices, include motion sensors, thermal detection systems and drones that are designed to alert the ship’s bridge; to stop the ship and immediately deploy search and rescue protocols.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a cruise ship overboard incident. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Slippery or wet decks
  • Suicide
  • Intoxication or excessive drinking
  • Overcrowding on decks or in pools
  • Lack of proper safety equipment or barriers
  • Poorly maintained ship infrastructure or equipment
  • Negligence or recklessness on the part of the cruise ship crew

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).


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadline can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

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 claims lawyer about your potential claim- toll-free at 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.