Sunday, April 1, 2007; Page P01


Over the Rail

The dramatic rescue at sea last week of two cruise passengers who fell off the balcony of the Grand Princess ocean liner made CoGo wonder: How often do cruisers fall overboard?

There’s no official source keeping count, but Canadian professor Ross Klein, a self-described cruise junkie, lists 75 accounts of cruise passengers going overboard since 2003 on his Web site, He gathers his information mainly through news clippings. His list includes people who were saved and apparent suicides.

Between 2003 and 2005, 24 people went missing from ships that are members of the Cruise Lines International Association, according to the trade group, whose membership includes most lines operating out of North America. The FBI investigated 12 disappearances of people from cruise ships between January 2002 and February 2007, according to the FBI. That number doesn’t reflect all cruise-related missing-persons cases, because the FBI has limited jurisdiction over crimes aboard ships.

It’s hard to say what happened in the cases investigated “due to the inability to locate bodies,” an FBI official told Congress last week. However, investigators believe alcohol was involved in five cases; foul play was suspected in four.

The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman who fell overboard last week are very lucky not to be showing up in missing-persons stats. After a four-hour search, the woman was found about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston, Tex. As she was being hoisted aboard, rescuers spotted the man. He decided to continue the cruise; the woman returned home. At the request of the passengers, details about how it happened are not being released, according to a Princess Cruises spokeswoman.

~ by fredfelleman on March 30, 2007.

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