Most of us have seen the news reports about the tragic incident of a woman falling from the Norwegian Dawn on Sunday night. Initially there was some speculation that foul play might have been involved, but NCL reports that they have surveillance video showing that the woman was alone at the time of the incident. The FBI is currently investigating the incident by reviewing the video and interviewing passengers. According to early reports, the New Jersey woman was attempting to climb from one balcony to another at the time she fell.
As a cruise lover, I wanted to provide our Cruise Talk readers with a few thoughts on the incident. First, my sincere condolences go out to the family. It is very sad to think that a loved one will not return home from a dream vacation. Hopefully, no matter what the outcome of the investigation may be, publicity from this tragedy will serve as a strong warning to future cruisers to take safety on a cruise ship very seriously. Balconies are a wonderful amenity, but passengers should never attempt to climb on railings or even balcony furniture. A rule of thumb should be that while on a balcony, one should always have his or her feet planted firmly on the deck. Also, passengers should never engage in any kind of “horse play” while on a balcony. There were reports, in another incident, that a young lady who fell off a cruise ship last summer and was rescued, was trying to leap frog, piggy back onto a young man that was standing at the rail. She overshot her target and went into the water. The railings are at a safe height as long as passengers don’t climb on them or “horse around” on the balconies.
Second, I want to acknowledge that the security measures that NCL had in place provided important evidence to the FBI investigators. After the well publicized disappearance of honeymooner George Smith on a Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruise, cruise lines began to improve their surveillance capabilities in order to be able to better investigate these kinds of incidents. NCL had security cameras in place that apparently provided a clear time line of the event. They have not released the video to the public, but they have released the sequence of events as they unfolded.
7:28 PM. The woman and her boyfriend return to their cabin after dining at the ship’s Garden Cafe with their traveling companions.
7:36 PM. Her boyfriend left the cabin and went to join the other couple in their cabin next door. From that moment on, the woman is alone in her cabin.
7:53 PM. Surveillance cameras from the exterior of the ship capture the woman falling overboard from her balcony, straight into the water. Shortly thereafter, an emergency call was made from the friend’s stateroom and her boyfriend is seen exiting to seek help.
7:57 PM. A man overboard announcement is made and the ship’s crew began lifesaving operations, including the launch of two rescue boats.
NCL has offered to fly the woman’s family down to Bermuda to collect her belongings and view the video tape of the incident. So far, the woman’s family has declined to view the video, preferring that the FBI, who is in Bermuda investigating the incident, make a ruling on whether or not the incident was an accident or involved foul play.