An overboard incident has been reported from the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, as the vessel was sailing just south of Cuba on a modified itinerary due to Hurricane Idalia.
Few details are known at this time about the circumstances of the overboard or ongoing search operations.
Emergency Call on Wonder of the Seas
Guests onboard the current sailing of Wonder of the Seas have reported an “Oscar Oscar Oscar” emergency call on the evening of Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at approximately 9 p.m. Eastern Time. This emergency code signifies an overboard situation.
After the call, the cruise ship slowed and retraced its route, spending approximately three hours engaged in search operations, using spotlights, small craft, and watchers. The incident occurred while the ship was roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Santiago de Cuba on the island’s south shore.
Few details from the situation have been officially announced, and it is not known whether or not the overboard individual could be a crew member or passenger, what age they are, or other circumstances that may have led to the incident. It is also possible the emergency might have been initiated by a witness spotting someone already in the water.
To further complicate the situation, an unrelated medical emergency has forced Wonder of the Seas to suspend the search and head quickly for Grand Cayman, which is not on the ship’s itinerary.
Online tracking data confirms the ship’s search efforts and subsequent turn toward Grand Cayman, heading for the island at close to top speed.
Wonder of the Seas is currently sailing a modified 7-night Western Caribbean cruise that departed Port Canaveral on Sunday, August 27. The ship’s original itinerary was to have visited CocoCay, Cozumel, Honduras, and Costa Maya.
Due to the influence of Hurricane Idalia, the itinerary was modified with Honduras cancelled and Cozumel moved to later in the sailing. At no time was Wonder of the Seas scheduled to visit Grand Cayman.
Currently the world’s largest passenger cruise ship, the 236,857-gross ton, Oasis-class Wonder of the Seas can welcome 5,734 guests at double occupancy, and as many as 6,988 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. Also aboard are 2,300 international crew members to provide service for memorable cruise vacations.
There have been a number of overboard incidents in recent months, from a variety of cruise lines and in different areas of the world.
In mid-August, a male passenger went overboard from Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess near Hilo, Hawaii, during a 16-night sailing.
Near Singapore, a female guest went overboard from Royal Caribbean International’s Spectrum of the Seas in late July, and after an unsuccessful search, was declared deceased. Video footage from the incident seemed to confirm the overboard was sadly intentional.
Similarly, a guest went intentionally overboard from Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation in late July, while the ship was returning to its Jacksonville, Florida homeport after a Bahamas cruise. That search was ended unsuccessfully.
Such incidents are always upsetting not only to the friends and family members of the individuals involved, but also to guests and crew members who witness search efforts and emergency responses during what they had hoped would be a fun and relaxing cruise vacation.
When an overboard alert is initiated, multiple search measures are immediately undertaken, including a roll call of passengers and crew members onboard, reviewing security footage of cameras monitoring the sides of the ship, and contacting local authorities for assistance if possible.
Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with everyone aboard Wonder of the Seas at this troubling time, including passengers, crew members, and everyone impacted by such a sad situation.