Cruise Ship Passenger Safety In Focus After Woman Falls Overboard from Carnival Liberty

Carnival Liberty

Cruise ship passenger safety in once again in focus following a man overboard incident on a Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico.

Samantha Broberg, 33, was reported missing at about noon Friday to crew members on board the Carnival Liberty. A search of the ship turned up empty, and crews later uncovered surveillance video to confirm that Broberg had fallen overboard from the 10th deck at around 2 a.m. Friday as the ship was about 200 miles southeast of Galveston.

A coordinated search involving the cruise ship and Coast Guard aircrews spanned 20 hours and covered some 4,300 square miles of ocean before it was called off Sunday night.

Carnival said in a statement that the video, which has not been released, suggests that Broberg was sitting on a deck railing when she fell back into the water.

A map of the search area provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.
A map of the search area provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to the website, which tracks man overboard incidents on cruise ships, over the past five years an average of 23 people fall overboard from cruise ships each year. So far in 2016, there have been four such incidents, including an incident on May 11 where a man reportedly jumped overboard from the Coral Princess, according to the Cruise Law News website.

Cruise Law News, run by maritime attorney Jim Walker, has been critical of cruise lines for failing to install state-of-the-art video cameras to document such incidents, as well as high-tech motion detection systems that would alert the bridge as soon as a man overboard incident occurs. In the case of the Carnival Liberty, Walker slams the crew of the cruise ship over a 15 hour delay in reporting Broberg missing to the U.S. Coast Guard – the crew did not report Broberg missing until 5 p.m. Friday. Another issue Walker raises is the issue of Cruise Lines over serving alcohol to passengers, as alcohol seems to be the common thread in many of these accidents.

“My thought is that cruise lines owe a duty of reasonable care to passengers pursuant to maritime law,” Jim Walker writes on his website.

So this begs the question: are cruise lines doing enough to protect passenger safety?

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