A 63-year-old Korean woman is presumed dead after she went overboard from a Norwegian Cruise Line
ship in the Mediterranean Sea this weekend.
The unnamed woman went missing Saturday morning as the Norwegian Epic traveled from Cannes, Frances, to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the company told MarketWatch.
Passengers reported that Norwegian asked many of them to assist in looking for the woman, who was last seen wearing pink pajamas, according to U.K. publication The Sun. The search caused the ship to miss its planned call to Palma de Mallorca.
Norwegian has since called off the search for the woman. “As soon as the report was made, the authorities were notified and a search and rescue operation ensued,” a spokesman for Norwegian said. “The search ceased after several hours, and sadly, the guest was not found.” The ship has since returned to Barcelona as planned.
Read more: The dark side of cruises
More than 300 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since the year 2000, according to data collected by Ross Klein, a professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, who tracks operational incidents involving cruise ships. Of those incidents, 26 involved Norwegian Cruise Line.
Incidents involving passengers going overboard are very rare, though, when compared to the vast number of people who travel on cruise ships each year.
In 2018, there were 23 man-overboard incidents, according to the Cruise Line Industry Association. Meanwhile, the cruise industry transported an estimated 28.2 million passengers that year. The number of man-overboard incidents declined 64% between 2009 and 2018, the organization said.
So far this year, nine people have gone overboard — three of whom survived, including two who were rescued.
“There are no known cases of someone acting responsibly who has accidentally fallen over the railing of a cruise ship,” said Megan King, senior vice president of strategic communications and research at the Cruise Line Industry Association. “The cause of man overboard (MOB) incidents from cruise ships has been determined to be the unfortunate result of intentional or reckless acts.”
King added that current safety regulations, including minimum heights for railings and structural barriers, would prevent passengers from falling off a cruise ship if they were acting responsibly.
Despite the small number of people who have gone overboard, some argue that lawmakers and the cruise industry could do more to protect passengers. Advocates for families whose loved ones have died or gone missing after going overboard are pushing for more stringent requirements regarding search and rescue procedures and the adoption of improved radar technology that could notify ship crew when someone goes overboard more quickly.
The cruise industry has been testing different systems to improve detection and response times when people go overboard from ships, King said.
Shares of Norwegian are down 2.91% over the last three months. Comparatively, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
are up 1.92% and 3.31% respectively over that same period of time.