It happened again. Another passenger has plunged to her death from the deck of a cruise ship.
Why does this keep happening and is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
This time, the vessel was the Seabourn Quest. The 650-foot cruise ship, based out of the Bahamas, left Boston Friday afternoon bound for Bar Harbor, Maine.
Around 7 p.m. Friday, the US Coast Guard received a distress call from the ship that a woman had fallen overboard approximately 10 miles off Cape Ann, Mass.
Despite the Coast Guard’s prompt response by air and by sea, the woman’s body was pulled from the water at approximately 8:30 p.m.
There were no details on the woman or how she went overboard immediately released.
In cruise-speak, this is called a “MOB.” In maritime parlance, it signifies “Man Overboard” and it’s the one thing you don’t want to hear while vacationing.
But it keeps happening. Why?
CruisePage.com, a site that maintains statistics on MOB incidents, provides some interesting insights.
For example, men are much more likely to go overboard than women.
Curiously, Carnival passengers are more likely to go overboard than passengers from other cruise lines, especially passengers on the Carnival Conquest.
And passengers are most likely to fall overboard on the last night of their cruise.
The revelations are interesting but still leave us wondering “why?”
The truth is, most of these accidents are the results of bad decisions, and many involve alcohol.
ABC has produced a well-documented report on MOB events that provides some perspective.
There are also tips for how to survive if it ever happens to you. But the reality is, if you do fall off a cruise ship, if the fall doesn’t kill you, chances are, the sea will.
According to CruiseJunkie.com, it happened 22 times last year and the average is about 20 per year in the last five years.
When considering the millions of passengers that cruise every year, statistically, the event is unlikely, says the industry.
Still, 22 incidents in a year seems higher than it has to be. Is there more that can be done to protect passengers?
Maritime lawyer and industry watchdog, Jim Walker, says yes.
Walker agrees that most people who fall overboard are either drunk or doing questionable things, like climbing between cabin balconies.
But he says ships can do more to prevent loss of life related to these incidents, including the installation of motion sensors and thermal detection systems that would set off alarms when someone goes overboard.
New preventions to stop future heart-breaking cruise deaths are coming, but progress has been slow.
And every time we hear of another tragedy, it’s hard to disagree.