Authorities Find Cruise Ship's Response to Man Overboard to the Woefully Inadequate

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  • A report on the 2015 death of a Canadian man on a so-called booze cruise has been released.
  • The report blames the ship’s crew for not following “man overboard” procedures in response to the victim’s falling from the ship.
  • One of the more disturbing findings was that the crew decided not to sound the alarm so as to not alert other passengers to what was happening.

The investigation into the death of a Canadian man who died on a cruise ship last summer is providing a glimpse into the often times inadequate response cruise lines demonstrate in emergency situations.

On June 13, 2015 a London, Ontario resident fell overboard from the Northern Spirit I, a small cruise ship. An investigation by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) concluded that the victim, Keith White, was intoxicated when he fell from the ship as it sailed just miles from Toronto. White boarded the ship in an intoxicated state, but cruise ship security screening failed to identify his inebriation.

He also reportedly acted in an erratic manner after boarding the ship, including “being loud and stumbling,” but he was not denied additional alcohol purchases while onboard.

After White fell overboard, according to the TSB report, the ship’s crew responded to the emergency in an uncoordinated manner, even failing to initiate the “man overboard” procedure. Crew members only learned of the incident by word of mouth, as the signal was not sounded so as to avoid alarming other passengers.

Given these findings, it is not surprising that the report indicts the crew for not having followed any of the “man overboard” drills, despite the fact that the procedures were visibly displayed on the ship.

White’s body was found 18 days after his disappearance. His family is suing Mariposa Cruises for wrongful death, and has called on the relevant authorities in Canada to exercise more oversight over so-called “booze cruises”.