Broward County

‘Grateful’ cruise ship passengers return to Florida after deadly tour bus crash

Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas returned to Port Everglades on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. Some of the cruise passengers were on a bus tour in Mexico that ended with a fatal accident.
Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas returned to Port Everglades on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. Some of the cruise passengers were on a bus tour in Mexico that ended with a fatal accident. ldixon@miamiherald.com

Thankful and relieved passengers of Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas returned to South Florida Friday morning after 12 people, including 11 cruise passengers, died Tuesday in an accident on a trip to visit Mayan ruins in Mexico.

The ship arrived in the early morning hours at Port Everglades, and passengers, like Cape Coral resident Teresa Henderson, waited for rides and expressed sympathy for the fellow passengers who died, and gratefulness to be safely back in Florida.

“The crew members were very solemn along with the passengers, it was shocking,” Henderson said.

Henderson said she usually isn’t fond of traveling right before the holidays but her husband and some friends found a good deal. She and her friends had just returned from a taxi tour on the same day when they heard the news and she feels fortunate that they avoided tragedy.

“It’s a relief but, anytime you go to a country like that you have to be somewhat cautious,” Henderson said.

Her friend Chuck Snyder, also from Cape Coral, said that the situation was especially somber as the victim’s families will have to mourn in the middle of the holidays.

“You feel really sad for the folks who were doing the same thing we did,” Snyder said. “They were just trying to enjoy the holidays and take a little cruise and then tragedy strikes.”

Tuesday’s crash happened in southeastern Mexico when a bus flipped over and about 20 people were injured. Eleven passengers and a Mexican tour guide were killed.

At least 12 people died when a bus carrying cruise ship passengers to Mayan ruins in eastern Mexico flipped over on a highway early on Tuesday, officials said.

Among the dead passengers were two citizens of Sweden and seven Americans, including three members of a South Florida family. Coconut Creek resident Fanya Shamis; her daughter, Anna Behar, and her 11-year-old grandson, Daniel Behar, were killed in the crash, according to the Sun Sentinel and other media reports.

Royal Caribbean, in a statement Tuesday, offered sympathies and said they were assisting with medical care and travel after the accident.

“The news from Costa Maya about a bus accident involving #CelebrityEquinox & #SerenadeoftheSeas guests is heartbreaking. Our hearts go out to all those involved. We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation,” read a tweet from the company.

Jennifer Uhl, of Louisville, Kentucky, said she booked her cruise months ago as an early Christmas gift for her three children, and said that while they enjoyed the voyage, the heartbreak of the accident impacted everyone on the cruise.

“It definitely impacted some of our joyous times that day because I feel so terrible for those families,” Uhl said. “But at the same time I’m grateful that we were safe and everything was OK with us.”

Many of the passengers arriving on Friday said that the more gravely injured passengers were on Royal Caribbean’s other ship, the Celebrity Equinox, which is set to arrive at Port Miami on Saturday morning.

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