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It is hard to imagine a pleasure cruise aboard a cruise ship can result in a nightmare when a cruise passenger is reported missing during the cruise. However, cruise ship passenger disappearances have occurred with much more frequency than one would ever imagine.
Although exact statistics have not been revealed regarding the number of passengers who have disappeared or who have gone overboard on a cruise ship, because the cruise ship companies have not been required by any legal obligation to maintain or report such information, the disappearance of honeymooner, George Smith IV, during his honeymoon cruise, brought to light the issue of cruise passenger disappearances and passengers going overboard during a cruise.
Our firm represented the parents of George Smith IV in their case against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, seeking answers from the cruise ship company how their son could have gone overboard during his honeymoon cruise. There were reports of a fight in the cabin, including blood found in the cabin during an investigation, which suggested foul play. The authorities were pursuing the case as one of foul play. There were allegations that the investigation was not properly done at the beginning which resulted in the inability to provide the answers the Smith family desperately sought.
We have handled several cases involving a passenger who has gone overboard during their cruise. As to the liability of the cruise ship company, the typical duty of the cruise ship company is to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the passengers. This includes providing adequate security aboard the ship to prevent "foul play" from causing injury or death to any of their passengers. The duty of reasonable care may also include monitoring the sale and consumption of alcohol, which often leads to incidents aboard vessels, which have included cruise ship passenger disappearances as well as sexual assaults and rapes.
The cruise ship company also has the duty to conduct an appropriate search and rescue effort after learning that a passenger is missing.
We have handled cases involving the sale of alcohol which was reportedly l linked to the disappearance or blamed as the cause of the passenger going overboard, as well as inadequate search and rescue efforts which contributed to the failure to promptly locate and save the missing passenger.
Attorney, Brett Rivkind of our law firm testified in Congress following the disappearance of George Smith about cruise ship safety issues, as well reporting requirements of the cruise ship companies. Eventually, the Congressional Hearings spearheaded a movement to pass better legislation to protect passengers aboard cruise ships, and President Obama signed into law. This law provides for better reporting requirements by the cruise line companies, which will now lead to better awareness on the part of the public about the potential dangers that do lurk aboard a cruise ship. Hopefully better reporting of the incidents that do occur on cruise ships, as well as greater awareness, will result in fewer catastrophes aboard cruise ships.
Another disappearance of a cruise ship passenger also resulted in her father becoming very active in the movement toward better legislation. Our firm assisted in the creation of the organization International Cruise Victims, which is led by its President, Kendall Carver, who lost his daughter aboard a passenger cruise ship.