MSC Cruises Guest Drowns While Visiting Private Island

An MSC Meraviglia guest drowned in late August while visiting the cruise line's private island in the Bahamas. The investigation is ongoing.

A male MSC Cruises guest drowned recently while swimming at MSC Cruises’ private island in the Bahamas during a port of call visit from MSC Meraviglia.

The guest’s family is seeking answers about the safety of the island, and the investigation into the passenger’s death is ongoing.

Drowning Incident at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

A 26-year-old male guest identified as Akeem Charles, a native of Guyana and resident of New York, unfortunately drowned during a visit to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve on Thursday, August 31, 2023.

Charles had been cruising aboard MSC Meraviglia with family members and a large church group when the ship visited the private island sanctuary.

Charles’ sister was with him when the incident occurred, and stated that their fun day at the beach quickly turned tragic shortly after 5 p.m. when Charles became unresponsive in the water. The sister’s boyfriend helped get Charles out of the water, and a nearby lifeguard was alerted to the situation.

Ocean Cay Lighthouse
Ocean Cay Lighthouse (Photo Credit: mmuenzl / Shutterstock)

Family members claim the lifeguard did not properly administer CPR, and a defibrillator was not successful in helping resuscitate Charles. Local authorities were also contacted, and the man sadly passed. The investigation is ongoing, and the family is awaiting the man’s body to be returned to the US from Nassau.

MSC Meraviglia is one of the larger ships in MSC Cruises’ fleet, coming in at 171,600 gross tons. The ship can host 4,428 guests at double occupancy, and up to 5,642 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled. Also onboard are more than 1,500 international crew members.

The ship is currently homeported from New York City, offering Bermuda and Bahamas sailings as well as some Canada and New England itineraries this autumn.

MSC Cruises Responds

Any unfortunate incident on what should have been an enjoyable vacation is upsetting not only to the family and friends involved, but also to other guests onboard the cruise as well as crew members.

MSC Cruises has responded to the incident with a statement provided to Cruise Hive, emphasizing their cooperation with the local authorities and the fact that lifeguards do receive professional training, which includes CPR:

“All of us at MSC Cruises remain saddened by the death of a passenger travelling aboard MSC Meraviglia during the ship’s call at Ocean Cay on August 31. The safety of our guests is our top priority, which is why we focus so closely on ensuring safe swimming conditions at Ocean Cay. Lifeguards are stationed on the beaches and patrol its perimeter—all of whom are certified through the Red Cross under a program covering CPR, professional rescue, first aid and water skills,” the statement read.

MSC Cruises Private Island
MSC Cruises Private Island (Photo Credit: Victor Maschek / Shutterstock)

Because the investigation is continuing, and to protect the privacy of Charles’ family and friends at this difficult time, no further details have been released about the circumstances surrounding the drowning.

It is possible that underlying medical conditions or other factors may have contributed to the incident, but a full medical examination must be conducted to ascertain the complete cause of death. The incident reportedly happened at the Lagoon Beach area of the island, where waters are more protected.

At the time of MSC Meraviglia‘s visit to Ocean Cay, Hurricane Idalia was spinning near South Carolina and Hurricane Franklin was near Bermuda – both storms having contributed to rougher than usual waters, even as far away as the Bahamas.

Unfortunately, this incident is not the first drowning reported from cruise ships. In May, a Carnival cruise guest drowned during a visit to Mystery Island, Vanuatu. Cruise guest drowning incidents have also been reported at ports of call in Cozumel, Bimini, and Barbados.

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