News Column

Cruise Ship Passenger Lost at Sea, Coast Guard Says

September 18, 2012

Juan Ortega and Arlene Satchell

Miles offshore from South Florida, a U.S. Coast Guard search was under way Monday for a cruise ship passenger who fell overboard. The 21-year-old woman from Bartlett, Tenn., was aboard Royal Caribbean's mega-ship Allure of the Seas at about 9:25 p.m. EDT Sunday when another passenger saw her going overboard, according to a statement from Royal Caribbean International.

The ship had departed Sunday from Port Everglades, Fla., on a seven-night Caribbean itinerary.

Throughout the day Monday, the Coast Guard was scouring an estimated 320 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The effort was expected to carry on "until we've exhausted all our assets," and while there still was the possibility of finding her, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Elgammal.

Neither the Coast Guard nor Royal Caribbean released the woman's name. Royal Caribbean said it was "providing support to the guest's family and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The location where the woman went overboard - about 47 miles east of Fort Lauderdale - was marked on the ship's GPS.

It was used to retrace the route and conduct a search. Two other cruise ships that were nearby at the time, Carnival Fascination and Majesty of the Seas, assisted Allure of the Seas in the search, according to Royal Caribbean.

Ship crewmembers made several public announcements and searched the ship, but didn't find the woman. The ship's camera footage confirmed that the woman had gone overboard, Royal Caribbean said.

Additional details weren't released about what caused the woman to go overboard.

When the disappearance was reported, the ship captain stopped the ship, turned around and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard, Royal Caribbean said. The Allure of the Seas notified Coast Guard Sector Miami about 11:30 p.m. EDT, Elgammal said.

About 3:30 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard assumed full control and released the cruise ships from searching, Royal Caribbean said.

Monday, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Air Station Miami, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft aircrew and a C-130 fixed-wing aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater were searching the water, officials said. Also helping were the Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.

Monday, Allure of the Seas spent the day at sea. It didn't make a port of call at Nassau, Bahamas, because of the search effort. Wednesday, it was scheduled to arrive in St. Maarten, one of its scheduled port calls, the company said.

The ship sails every Sunday year-round from Port Everglades, its home port, according to a port officials.



Source: (c) 2012 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.


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