We may never know why Rina Patel, a 32-year-old woman from Interlaken, New York, fell overboard from the Carnival Ecstasy as the ship sailed near Grand Bahama earlier this month.  Ms. Patel was last seen alive on Deck 11 shortly before dawn, and according to Carnival Cruise Line, she allegedly jumped.  Ms. Patel was on the cruise with her husband and family.  Carnival claims it initiated “man-overboard procedures,” which triggered a US Coast Guard search-and-rescue mission. Reports claim the search covered anywhere between 27 miles and as much as  2,800 square miles during a 43-hour period.  The ship returned to port in Charleston, South Carolina.

One reason we will not know how or why Ms. Patel fell is that to date Carnival has failed to utilize man-over board technology (MOB) as required by law under the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety Security Act (CVSSA).   The CVSSA specifically requires that cruise lines equip their ships with devices that can capture the images of passengers who fall overboard.  Unfortunately, this law applies only to ships that set sail for the first time after the law was enacted. Specifically, the law states the following:

(D) The vessel 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.

(E) The vessel shall be equipped with a sufficient number of operable acoustic hailing or other such warning devices to provide communication capability around the entire vessel when operating in high risk areas (as defined by the United States Coast Guard).

Carnival proclaims on its website, “there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our guests,” yet six years after the passing of the law, Carnival–the world’s largest cruise line, with reported income of nearly $2 billion dollars in net profits, and the owner and operator of the ship Ms. Patel fell from–has not gone back and added MOB equipment to its older ships.  In fact, most of Carnival’s fleet of aging ships set sail prior to the law’s enactment.  In any case, Carnival continues to deprive its passengers of modern safety technology that the law would require it to provide on a newer ship.

Our cruise ship accident lawyers wish to express our sincerest condolences to Ms. Patel’s family for their loss. At the same time, we hope that her death will motivate Carnival Cruise Line to put its passengers’ safety ahead of profits by retrofitting all of its ships and subsidiary cruise line ships with MOB technology.  No one will ever know whether or not, had there been CCTV footage, Ms. Patel would have been saved.  However, we believe that every passenger deserves to be afforded the same degree of safety on every ship, not just those built after 2010.  

Additionally, all of the major cruise lines–such as Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity, NCL, Disney, MSC, Holland America, and Princess–with cruise ships that embark and disembark in the United State are required by law to report any criminal and suspicious activity to the FBI.  So far this year, with reports for only the first six months, Carnival has reported one passenger death and two suspicious deaths, not including Ms. Patel’s.  By comparison,  Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has reported one homicide, and two suspicious deaths during the same period.  To learn more about cruise lines’ incident reports and statistics,  click here.

If you are thinking about taking a cruise, we strongly recommend that you look to see what year the ship first set sail. Then select one that was built after 2010, hopefully to be afforded a higher degree of safety and technology to protect you and your family.  

If you have been involved in an accident on a Carnival cruise ship or injured on any cruise ship, it is important to consult with an experienced cruise ship accident attorney as soon as possible.  Our cruise ship claims law firm in Miami has over 25 years of experience in fighting the cruise lines on behalf of injured passengers from around the world.  Call us today for a free initial consultation–toll free at 1-866-597-4529 or at 305-441-0440, via SKYPE or email at newcase@aronfeld.com.  We are ready to help you obtain fair and reasonable compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement, and pain and suffering.

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