Man Overboard and Missing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

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The search is on for a 20-year-old-man who fell overboard from Liberty of the Seas early this morning, Thursday, April 4, 2024. The Freedom-class cruise ship was on its way back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when the passenger went into the water. 

Passenger Missing After Going Overboard 

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas has lost a passenger while sailing on a 4-night Eastern Caribbean Cruise to and from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 20-year-old male passenger went overboard in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 4, 2024, approximately 57 miles from Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas. 

Coast Guard Cutter Seneca and crews from Coast Guard Air Station Miami are leading the search to find the missing cruiser, who thus far has not been found. 

“USCG crews are searching for a 20-year-old man who went overboard from the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship 57 miles from Great Inagua this morning. USCG Cutter Seneca and Air Station Miami HC-144 crews are conducting the search,” the United States Coast Guard wrote on X.

Liberty of the Seas in Florida
Liberty of the Seas in Florida (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock)

According to guests onboard the 3,634-passenger vessel, the ship halted its course when the man went overboard at approximately 4:30 a.m. local time, with crew attempting to find and rescue the man until the Coast Guard arrived to take over the search between 9 and 10 a.m. 

It’s also unclear why or how the man went overboard, and if it was an accident or on purpose. Some passengers onboard have said they believe the man jumped after an argument with his girlfriend, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities or the cruise line.

Cruise Hive reached out to Royal Caribbean and the cruise line responded with the following statement: “The ship’s crew immediately launched a search and rescue effort alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, who has taken over the search. Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest’s family during this difficult time. For the privacy of the guest and their family, we have no additional details to share.”

Authorities have not yet revealed the man’s identity in order to protect the privacy of the missing person and his family.

Liberty of the Seas Continues Sailing 

While the man going overboard constitutes an emergency and a potential tragedy if he is not found, Royal Caribbean has a responsibility to the thousands of other passengers onboard to continue on with the voyage once the search was left in the capable hands of the United States Coast Guard. Indeed, it is not unusual for cruise ships to be released once rescue personnel arrive. 

When the unidentified man went overboard, Liberty of the Seas was nearing the end of a 4-night Eastern Caribbean sailing that embarked on Monday, April 1, 2024, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship called on Puerto Plata/Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic on April 3, and was on its way back to Fort Lauderdale when the man went into the water 57 miles from the Great Inagua island in the Bahamas. 

As of now, the ship is still scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on April 5, as was previously planned. On the same day, the 155,889-gross-ton vessel is scheduled to head back out to sea for a 3-night sailing to Nassau, Bahamas and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination.

Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship
Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

The Freedom-class ship will continue to offer 3-5 night Caribbean and Bahamas cruises from Fort Lauderdale until May 4, when the vessel will switch its homeport to New York City, from where it will offer Bermuda cruises. 

Read Also: What Happens During a Cruise Ship Overboard Alarm?

Passengers sailing on upcoming Liberty of the Seas cruises shouldn’t worry too much about going overboard. These incidents are rare, with roughly 20-30 passengers and crew members going overboard each year out of the millions that go on a cruise. The cruise lines also go out of their way to make sure their ships are as safe as possible, such as by installing high railings on outdoor areas and balconies. 

That said, it doesn’t mean these emergency situations never occur. Royal Caribbean experienced a similar incident onboard Vision of the Seas last year in late December, when a 41-year-old man went overboard during a holiday cruise to the Bahamas. The passenger went overboard at approximately 7:15 p.m. on December 23, 2023, while positioned approximately 27 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina.

Although crew members sprung into action and followed emergency procedures, and the coast guard once again quickly joined the search, this incident ended in tragedy. The search was called off on the following day, Christmas Eve, and the man was never found.

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