Monday, May 29, 2006

Carnival Legend: An incident at sea

Some of you will recall that Donna and I sailed on a Caribbean cruise last week on the Carnival Legend. You may also have seen that ship in the headlines the last day or so.
The next few days I’m going to be telling you about the cruise and posting photos. We generally had a good time and so I wanted to mention tragedy right off the bat.

It was around 1:15am on Saturday morning when I was awoken by the Captain’s voice over the public address system. As any of you who have cruised before know, they seldom make announcements after 10:00pm and NEVER in the middle of the night. The Captain said, as closely as I recall, “Operation Bravo. Operation Bravo, all staff. Operation Bravo on the starboard side.”

Having served in the U.S. Navy my initial reaction was that there was a fire. When I noticed no alarms sounding, I immediately realized that it had to be the second worst incident, namely a ‘man overboard.’ Going out on the patio I noticed, being all the way aft, the ship was slowing quickly and then turning sharply. Peter, who was sharing our cabin, also awoke and we saw the ship’s searchlights playing over the surface. A call to the Purser/Reception Desk got me an ‘everything is under control’ response. It was only about twenty minutes later when the Cruise Director came over the P.A. to verify the ‘man overboard’ situation.

For the next twelve hours the Legend, along with the U.S. Coast Guard (via aircraft) and at least one other vessel (a private sailing boat) continued to cover the area in which the man had disappeared.

According to word making the rounds (including several of our tablemates, who had a stateroom several doors down from the man and his family), the husband had been drinking quite a bit, and had lost a ‘large amount’ in the casino. He and his wife had been heard arguing several times around the ship and security was called around 12:45. Upon several members of the security team gaining entrance to the room, the husband made a dash for the patio and leaped over the railing. This was witnessed by the security team, the wife and at least one of their two children (reported to be around seven years old, and I have been told there was a young child as well). Obviously, in this type of situation rumors abound, but I’ve tried to keep this to what we heard from first and second hand sources.

Over the next two nights, Donna and I saw the wife accompanied at all times in both the dining room and in the lobby leading to the buffet by a female security officer. Our table mates, who shared the deck with the family, told us that a security guard was posted permanently outside the cabin.

Sadly, no report I’ve yet heard or read states that the man or his remains have been located. From my knowledge of the vessel and my experience in the Navy, I have to assume that he was more than likely immediately pulled into the wake of the ship, probably under & into the propellers.

We may never know the entire situation, but my thoughts must go out to his wife and children, as well as any other surviving family. This is an incident that will remain with them for the rest of the lives and I hope that the media will leave them in peace.
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