Coast Guard Suspends Search for Passenger Who Fell From Cruise Ship

The U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday that it halted its search for a woman who went overboard from a Carnival cruise ship near Ensenada, Mexico.,

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The U.S. Coast Guard suspended a 31-hour search for a passenger who fell off a cruise ship near Mexico, the authorities said on Sunday.

The woman, who was not immediately identified, was aboard a Carnival cruise ship when she fell on Saturday morning “from the balcony of her stateroom,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement. The company said the ship had been on a three-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, and the Coast Guard said the woman fell near there.

Carnival did not provide further details of how the woman fell overboard.

On Saturday, the Coast Guard said that it had deployed a cutter called the Forrest Rednour as well as a helicopter, and that it was working with Mexico’s Navy to find the woman.

Crews started searching early in the morning on Saturday and into Sunday, the Coast Guard said. It led a search of about 520 square nautical miles, it said.

One passenger told a California news station, KABC-TV, that he heard someone say, “Man overboard, man overboard port side” on the ship’s speakers. He said that when he looked over the balcony of his room, he saw crew members tossing life preservers into the water.

Daniel Miranda, another passenger, told the station that cruise officials said that they had “verified through the cameras” that a woman had fallen into the water. A photo he took, broadcast by the station, also showed that the area of the ship where the woman fell had been cordoned off with blue tape.

After more than 31 hours scouring the area, the Coast Guard said on Sunday that it had suspended its search “pending additional information.”

The cruise company said in its statement that after assisting the Coast Guard, its ship had returned to Long Beach, Calif., as scheduled on Dec. 12. “Our thoughts are with the guest and her family, and our Care Team is providing support,” the company said.

In California, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents went to the ship “with an evidence response team” to assist in the case, a spokeswoman for the bureau said on Monday.

It is increasingly uncommon for passengers to fall from cruise ships, according to Carolyn Spencer Brown, who has covered the cruise industry for about 25 years, currently as chief content officer of Cruise Media LLC.

“It’s becoming much more uncommon than it was 20 years ago,” she said, citing the “increasingly sophisticated design specifications” that have prioritized safety on ships.

“They are designed to keep you safe,” she continued. “You really don’t hear about it very often, and when it happens, typically there are other factors involved.”

In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which required ships be equipped with rails no shorter than 42 inches above the deck, and with alarms and other technology to help signal and find passengers who go overboard.

In 2018 and 2019, 26 and 29 people fell overboard from cruise and ferry ships, according to Cruisejunkie.com, which lists cases reported by the news media, including those involving people who jumped. In 2020 and 2021, when far fewer passengers took cruises because of the pandemic, the site recorded three incidents.

Carnival did not immediately respond to a question about how many people have fallen overboard from its ships in recent years. The ship traveling to Ensenada this weekend, the Carnival Miracle, debuted in 2004 and can accommodate more than 2,100 guests and 934 crew members, according to the company.

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