A cruise shore excursion has ended in tragedy in the Bahamas with a sunken boat and a passenger’s death during what was to have been an enjoyable day in the tropical destination’s popular tourist spot, Blue Lagoon Island. The incident happened on the morning of Tuesday, November 14, 2023, and a thorough investigation is sure to follow.
Cruise Tour Boat Sinks in Nassau
At approximately 11 a.m. on Tuesday, November 14, a double-decker cruise tour boat en route to Blue Lagoon Island from the Nassau Cruise Port encountered rough water and larger than expected waves, causing the boat to take on water and tip dangerously.
Ultimately, the boat sank completely, though water in the area is only approximately 20 feet (6 meters) deep, and the upper part of the vessel was still visible above the waterline after the water intake stabilized.
“Today at approximately 11am, a vessel from Blue Lagoon Island started taking on water and became partially submerged,” a statement from Blue Lagoon Island read. “Emergency Teams from the island quickly arrived to render assistance. Passengers and 5 staff members were located and brought to the island and two passengers were taken to the hospital for additional care. All onboard are accounted for.”
Initial police reports indicated the boat was on a snorkeling excursion, a popular activity at Blue Lagoon Island, but it may also have been a ferry to the island before a beach snorkeling tour.
Video from the incident shared on social media, which already has more than 10,000 comments, shows guests onboard wearing life jackets and moving to one side of the boat as the craft lists dangerously to the other side. Later, guests are seen jumping into the water from the sinking boat as they try to reach other nearby boats.
Local authorities, including the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Blue Lagoon, and other nearby vessels all assisted in evacuating guests from the boat and getting them safely ashore.
A 75-year-old woman died in the incident, though the details of her death have not been confirmed nor has her identity been released. It is unknown whether or not she may have had pre-existing health concerns that could have been aggravated by the frightening incident.
While two other guests were taken to the hospital as a precaution, no other serious injuries have been reported.
All Cruise Guests Aboard
The statement from Blue Lagoon Island confirmed that all passengers aboard the vessel were cruise ship guests, but has not detailed which ship or ships they may have been from.
Five cruise ships from five different cruise lines were in port on November 14: Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl, Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Liberty.
It is possible that guests from more than one cruise line were aboard the stricken vessel, as different tour groups from the same organization are often combined for transportation. No cruise line has issued a statement or comment on the incident at this time.
Undoubtedly, the impacted cruise line’s care team would be assisting guests, including the family members or friends of the deceased woman, at this difficult time.
Furthermore, a full investigation is likely to determine whether the boat was operating as expected and whether or not there were any safety or navigational violations that may have contributed to the incident.
It is unknown at this time whether additional tours for Blue Lagoon Island – which often include beach breaks, dolphin swims, snorkeling, and sting ray encounters – may be impacted over the next few days.