Tourism & Cruises

Coast Guard searching for 20-year-old Royal Caribbean crew member who went overboard

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a 20-year-old Royal Caribbean cruise line crew member who went overboard Tuesday in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Coast Guard first learned that Arron Hough, 20, of the United Kingdom had gone overboard at 1:45 p.m. Christmas Day. At the time, the Harmony of the Seas ship was traveling from its home port of Fort Lauderdale to its first stop of St. Maarten on its seven-day Caribbean itinerary.


According to his Twitter account, Hough was a performer in the musical “Grease” aboard the ship.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement that Hough did not show up for work on Tuesday. Ship crew members reviewed footage from the ship’s security cameras and found that Hough entered an area on Deck 5 at around 4 a.m. and was not seen on camera again.

On Wednesday the Coast Guard continued to search for Hough with an airplane and cutter ship. They are focusing their search on the area of ocean 267 miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico where Hough reportedly went overboard.

The Harmony of the Seas continued on its regularly scheduled itinerary, arriving in St. Maarten Wednesday.

Hough is the fifth person to go overboard on a cruise ship since late November.

On Nov. 22, a 27-year-old crew member on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas disappeared from the ship and was never found.

A 69-year-old woman from Holland went overboard the MSC Preziosa; the Coast Guard did not find her.

Thomas McElhany went overboard from the Carnival Victory and was never found.

A 22-year-old man with autism went overboard on the Carnival cruise line ship Fantasy and was never found.

A 2010 federal law requires cruise ships to have technology to detect when passengers go overboard as soon as it happens “to the extent that such technology is available.” Most cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, say the technology on the market is unreliable and causes too many false positives, so most ships do not have it. In four out of five of the recent overboard incidents, ship crews did not become aware that a person was missing until hours later.

Last week a jury found Royal Caribbean Cruise Line not responsible in a 2016 incident when a passenger went overboard.

Related stories from Miami Herald

Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.