Tourism & Cruises

A man went overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. What happened next was unusual

The Medical Examiner’s Office truck at Crown Bay as St. Thomas authorities investigated the man overboard incident on the Symphony of the Seas
The Medical Examiner’s Office truck at Crown Bay as St. Thomas authorities investigated the man overboard incident on the Symphony of the Seas Courtesy VI Consortium

An Australian passenger died after going overboard on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Symphony of the Seas.

The Miami-based cruise company confirmed the man went overboard Wednesday as the 6,680-passenger ship headed for St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ship is on a seven-day cruise through the Eastern Caribbean from PortMiami.

Onboard rescue crews recovered his body, a highly unusual occurrence. The U.S. Coast Guard said it won’t be investigating the death because the ship is registered in the Bahamas, the victim isn’t a U.S. citizen and this happened in international waters.

In 2018, 23 people went overboard on cruise ships and only four bodies were found, according to a Miami Herald analysis of data compiled by Ross Klein, a professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland who has been tracking overboard incidents since 2000. Three people were found alive and one person was found dead.

Last month a 37-year-old Carnival Cruise Line crew member fell overboard near Cuba while working on the ship’s lifeboats, according to people who were on the ship at the time. His body was never found.

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“Upon the initial report that an Australian adult male had gone overboard, our ship immediately turned, launched a rescue boat, and conducted a full-scale search,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement. “We are working closely with authorities and will continue to assist in their investigation.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on the Symphony of the Seas en route to St. Thomas (Wednesday). Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones for their loss, and our care team is providing support and assistance during this difficult time.”

The man’s body will remain on the ship until it returns to Miami on Saturday, the Virgin Islands Consortium reported.

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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.
Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.