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Deaths overboard of a 7-year-old boy and his mother show the most likely scenario when people fall from cruise ships

The passengers were traveling on the Stena Line Spirit ferryMichal Fludra/Getty Images

  • A young boy and his mother both died after falling overboard from a passenger ferry earlier this month.

  • The incident represents the most likely outcome for those falling from large boats.

  • According to industry data, only 28% of people who fall from cruise ships are rescued.

The tragic story of a young boy and his mother who both died after falling overboard from a large passenger ferry in the Baltic Sea last week is a stark reminder of the final fate that awaits most people falling from large boats and falling into the water.

Last Friday, a 7-year-old Polish boy fell overboard on a Stena Line ferry carrying passengers from Sweden to Poland, the ferry company told Insider. His mother jumped into the water to try to save him, but neither was found alive, authorities said.

The international incident had a significantly grimmer outcome than a recent overboard incident that made headlines when a woman was successfully rescued after falling from the 10th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on last month and having spent almost an hour in open water.

Experts told Insider it was “nothing short of miraculous” that the woman was saved.

The Royal Caribbean rescue in turn recalled the incredible incident in which a man who fell from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was successfully rescued after spending more than 20 hours walking on water and to eat bamboo to survive.

But triumphant accounts of water rescues are rare.

Of 212 incidents at sea between 2009 and 2019, only 48 – or 28.2% – of those who went overboard were successfully rescued, according to a report by the Cruise Lines International Association.

In May, a 35-year-old man fell overboard while on a Carnival cruise. The Coast Guard eventually suspended the search for him after 60 hours.

So far in 2023, there have been 10 incidents at sea affecting 11 people, according to data compiled by Ross Klein, professor of social work at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who runs a website on cruise safety. Nine of those eleven people died.

Despite headline-grabbing stories of troubled seas and criminal acts, incidents at sea remain a real rarity on cruise ships, according to data and industry experts.

In 2019, the last full year of pre-Covid data, 25 people went too far according to a 2020 CLIA report. This number includes both passengers and crew.

Compared to the more than 13.7 million passengers who embarked on a cruise in the United States alone in the same year, the probability of going too far is less than 0.000001%.

Read the original Insider article


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