ORLANDO, Fla. - A passenger who went overboard while on a cruise ship was safely rescued.
It happened on Sunday aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, and people on board say the entire rescue took about 45 minutes. Numerous cruisers watched from their balcony, and some are shocked the mission was a rescue and not a body recovery.
Passengers were outside on their balconies with binoculars trying to find the person in the water.
"We did have reports of a person overboard," said the ship’s captain over an announcement in a video sent to FOX 35 News.
The cruise turned into a crisis for passengers enjoying a vacation on the water.
"After we saw the life rafts or the life preservers and the smoke – I was like, someone just died," said Matthew Kuhn who’s on the cruise with his family.
He watched the ordeal unfold from his balcony after checking on his family to make sure his kids were safe.
"I think it was amazing to see everyone was on their balcony. Everyone was trying to help, and the crew was very receptive to everyone," he added.
Boats searched the seas and ended up finding the missing person still alive who the U.S. Coast Guard identified as a 42-year-old U.S. citizen. The Coast Guard shared a statement on the rescue with FOX 35.
"Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a report from the Cruise Ship Mariner of the Seas at approximately 5:44 p.m. Sunday that the ship’s crew had rescued a female passenger, 42, U.S. citizen, who had gone overboard.," the statement read. "The cruise ship was transiting approximately 27 nautical miles south of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic when the incident occurred and was en route to Willemstad, Curaçao."
The passenger was recovered alive and reported to be in good health, after reportedly falling into the water from the tenth deck of the ship, the Coast Guard said.
A passenger was rescued after falling off Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. [Credit: Matthew Kuhn]
"No medical evacuation of the passenger was requested by the cruise ship. The passenger was being kept on the cruise ship’s medical facility and later transferred to the Hospital in Willemstad, Curacao for evaluation. The Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances that led to the passenger going overboard."
Since the person had already been recovered by the cruise ship, no Coast Guard assets were utilized.
"To go from, ‘She’s probably not going to be found,’ – and… it’s a body recovery, versus 'Holy crap, they found her, and she’s alive!," Kuhn added.
Royal Caribbean tells FOX 35 in a statement, "The ship and crew immediately reported the incident to local authorities and began searching for the guest. Thankfully, the guest was successfully recovered and was brought on board. Our care team is now offering assistance and support to them and their traveling party."
Data from a Cruise Lines International Association report on operational incidents from 2009 to 2019 shows only 28% of people who go overboard are safely rescued, the cruise line added.
The whole mood, even the cruise director, was – you could tell it was very somber for a brief time," he said. "When they found her, it was like – people were relieved. There was just a sense of, ‘OKAY, cool. No one died on our cruise.’"
When the boats lifted her back to safety, passengers on board started cheering, and the cruise continued its journey to its next destination. The ship is set to return to Port Canaveral on July 1.