Missing Persons on a Cruise: What Now?

It’s frightening to imagine that your loved one may go missing while on a cruise. Whether it’s an elderly passenger with dementia or a child who wanders away, the worry can be mind-numbing.

For instance, they could be injured on an excursion. In such a situation, Aronfeld Trial Attorneys may later represent the victim (once they’re found). Check them out at https://www.aronfeld.com/practice-areas/cruise-ship-injuries/ to find out how they assist with such cases.

Similarly, someone may go overboard from the ship or get kidnapped. Either way, it helps to know the sequence of events that may follow afterward. Let’s break it down for you.

1. Reporting to the Authorities

The cruise line should first call the authorities. After that, the Coast Guard may launch a search and rescue mission depending on the situation. For instance, if a passenger goes missing due to an accident, the rescue team can get called in. Or if they went overboard, a search would suffice.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) provides provisions that promote the safety of cruise ship passengers. Part of this Act requires cruise ships to provide a missing person report to the FBI if a U.S. national goes missing from their ship, regardless of whether they suspect they committed a crime or not.

Likewise, ships must have a video monitoring system. This is crucial as it can help investigators determine the occurrences at the time of the disappearance. By piecing the clues together, they can figure out what happened.

Along the same lines, the Act mandates cruise liners to have systems to detect passengers falling overboard. As such, if this occurs, the ship can circle back and attempt to save the passenger.

2. Returning to the Last-Known Point

Given the expansive nature of cruise ships, some passengers may lose their bearings, get injured in the process, and go missing. As such, a search aboard the vessel is always recommended, among other measures.

Let’s say a person disappears after disembarking from the ship for an excursion. In such a situation, the ship’s captain may decide to wait (for as long as necessary). This would give the authorities more time to search and rescue the missing passenger. If the person isn’t found, the crew may then empty their cabin and hand their belongings to a port agent before the ship proceeds on its course.

If all else fails, the cruise ship should return to where the missing person was last seen. This allows the crew and authorities to search the area and may raise the missing person’s chance of survival. This can also help narrow down the search area in the event of a rescue mission.

3. Keeping the Family Informed

It helps to keep the missing person’s family in the loop throughout the entire process. This can help assuage their fears to some extent and provides them with an idea of the transpiring events. They may also provide vital clues that may help the search or even join in to assist.

Usually, passengers on a cruise leave personal information like contact details at the front desk. Hence, if they’re unreachable, the cruise line can notify their loved ones.

4. Taking Legal Action

What if the missing person is never found? Well, their family may consider taking legal action. That said, proving that a cruise ship is accountable for a missing person can be hard, given the unpredictable nature of the sea. Hence, it helps to seek legal counsel from a cruise ship attorney.

Cruise ships may be liable for the wrongful death of a passenger, such as if they were injured due to recklessness or negligence during their voyage. Consequently, the missing person’s family may be eligible for financial redress. Such a legal representative can help by:

  • Investigating the incident and collecting evidence of negligence on the cruise line’s part.
  • Filing a lawsuit on behalf of the family.
  • Representing the family in court.
  • Calculating fair redress for the family and negotiating a fair settlement with the cruise line.

It’s imperative to follow up on a missing person’s report with a detailed investigation. Even so, cruise ships must observe all safety protocols to ensure the safety of their passengers at all times. And, passengers should always be aware of their surroundings to prevent potential mishaps.

In short, the key to managing incidences of missing persons on cruise ships is to act swiftly and with the utmost care. And while such occurrences are rare, how we handle them could significantly impact the victims and their families. Hopefully, you now understand what happens following a person’s disappearance while on a cruise.

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