The search has ended for a woman overboard from Celebrity Solstice in Alaska’s Inside Passage. The woman was reported overboard at approximately 3 a.m. Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and search operations began, but without success. The search was suspended nine hours later due to the probability that the woman has not survived.
Woman Overboard Celebrity Solstice
The captain of Celebrity Solstice reported the 40-year-old woman overboard to the U.S. Coast Guard at approximately 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The ship had departed Juneau several hours earlier as scheduled, and was cruising roughly 20 miles west of the port, near Eldred Rock in Lynn Canal, at the time the overboard was reported.
Boat and helicopter teams responded to the report and began searching the area, with no results. After nine hours, the search was ended, and it is believed the woman must have perished.
“Despite our best efforts to locate the individual, it is with heavy hearts that we make the decision to suspend the search,” said Coast Guard Lt.j.g. Trevor Layman, a Sector Juneau Command Center duty officer. “The decision to suspend active searching is based on a number of factors including weather, sea state, water temperature and other variables.”
The name of the woman and the circumstances of her going overboard have not been released.
Surviving in Alaskan Waters
Survivability in the cold waters of the Inside Passage is estimated at just over six hours under the best possible conditions. This is calculated based on the individual’s age, probably health, air and water temperatures, and other factors.
The air temperature in Juneau reached a high of 51 degrees Fahrenheit (10.5 Celsius) on Tuesday afternoon, and the National Weather Service reported the local water temperature at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius).
In poor conditions and without protective gear, an individual may survive less than an hour in the reported water temperature.
The first-of-her-class Celebrity Solstice is currently sailing a 7-night Alaskan cruise roundtrip from Seattle, Washington. The ship departed Seattle on Friday, May 13, and has already visited both Ketchikan and Juneau, as well as cruised along Tracy Arm Fjord. The ship visited Skagway on May 17, after the report of the woman overboard.
No delays have been reported with the cruise ship’s schedule, and it is currently sailing toward its last port of call for this itinerary – Victoria, Canada, where it will be docked on Thursday, May 19, before returning to Seattle on Friday.
Two other Celebrity Cruises ships are offering cruises to Alaska this summer. Celebrity Millennium is sailing 7-night northbound and southbound itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, while Celebrity Eclipse is offering roundtrip 7-night Hubbard Glacier sailings from Vancouver.
Overboard Incidents in Alaska
While uncommon, this is not the first time an overboard has been reported in Alaskan waters. In August 2018, a male crew member was reported overboard from Holland America Line’s MS Amsterdam while cruising in Sitka Sound.
In September 2016, a female crew member was reported overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl in Lynn Canal, the same region for this most recent overboard incident. In both cases, the individuals were not located and the searches were suspended.
Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with everyone, passengers, crew, and family members, affected by this sad incident.