Two Recent Man Overboard Incidents

“Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” is the ship emergency code for “Man Overboard”. This is not something you want to hear while on your cruise vacation. However, two recent man overboard incidents had ship’s crews scurrying to the rescue but ended with very different results. A man presumed to be intoxicated jumped from the Celebrity Solstice during the September 12-19 Carribbean cruise and a man who lost over $300k in the casino aboard Star Cruise line’s Superstar Aqaurius also jumped overboard. Fortunately for the man aboard the Solstice was able to be rescued. However, sadly for the man who jumped from the SuperStar Aquarius, rescuers were only able to recover his body.

Cruisers report that the man aboard the Solstice either jumped or fell from the ship at approximately 1:30 am on Friday Sept 18th. Most reports seem to indicate that the man jumped from either the 5th or 7th floor of the ship after arguing with his wife. Reportedly, a crew member who saw him jump threw a buoy with a flashing beacon into the water to mark his location and the the crew went into emergency mode fallowing their “man over board procedures.” The captain announced the code “Oscar, Oscar” and they launched two rescue boats into the water. When they rescued the man he was uncooperative and put in handcuffs. Upon reaching the next port, Roatan, Honduras, the man was disembarked from the ship and not permitted to continue the cruise.

In the other incident, a Chinese man traveling on the Asian market cruise line Star Cruises’s SuperStar Aquarius ship had apparently been gambling all evening, into the mid morning hour of 8:00 am on Sept 21st. The 51 year old man Xu apparently lost a great deal of money in the ship’s casino and then committed suicide by jumping overboard. Rescue crews recovered his body a few hours later.

Reports have varied as to how much money the man actually lost. One report said it was around $350K US dollars, another said it was 5 million HK Dollars, (600K US). Either way it does seem like a large amount of money to be gambling on a cruise ship.

For a while now, cruise ships have been known to cut off alcoholic beverage service when a passenger become especially intoxicated, but often this only happens when the passenger becomes disruptive in addition to the intoxication. Cruise lines also claim that they prohibit passengers from bringing their own liquor on board so they that can maintain a safe atmosphere on board the ship. I struggle as to whether or not it is really the ship’s responsibility to make sure their passengers maintain some level of sobriety. Personal responsibility has to figure in there some where. The man who had a fight with his wife and jumped overboard may have been suffering from illness and crying out for help. Thankfully he was rescued by the ship’s crew. We wish him a speedy recovery.

However, the man who committed suicide after his gambling loss, unfortunately, fits another problematic psychological profile, the profile of many addicted gamblers. According to the website, the suicide rate for pathological gamblers is twenty times higher than for non-gamblers (one in five attempts suicide). I’m not really sure there was much the cruise line could have done for this man other than set a loss limit at the tables or have security monitor him after his loss. Even so he may have been suicidal before his dramatic losses.

We invite our readers comments. Could or should the cruise lines have done more to prevent these men from jumping overboard? Should there be maximum loss limits at the gambling tables? Or is this simply a matter of personal responsibility? Let us know what you think.