What ought to have been a festive Christmas cruise has turned into tragedy for guests aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Vision of the Seas, as a man went overboard the ship on Saturday, December 23. Despite extensive efforts, the search was called off on Sunday, December 24.

A 41-year-old male passenger was reported overboard from Vision of the Seas at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, December 23, 2023. Guests onboard the ship heard the “Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!” emergency call which indicates an overboard situation.

The ship’s crew immediately initiated emergency procedures, including scanning the water for signs of the man. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) received the alert at 7:17 p.m., when the ship was positioned approximately 127 miles (205 kilometers) east of Charleston, South Carolina.

Vision of the Seas has departed Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, December 22 for an 8-night holiday sailing to the Bahamas, with port visits to Port Canaveral, Bimini, Perfect Day at CocoCay, and Freeport planned on the itinerary. The overboard incident happened before any port visit.

The circumstances of the incident, including further details of the guest’s identity and his traveling party, have not been revealed in order to safeguard the privacy of everyone impacted.

“The ship and crew immediately reported the incident to local authorities and launched a search and rescue mission,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International said. “Out of privacy for the guest and their family, we have no additional details to share.”

Two USCG C-130 Hercules planes and their rescue crews were part of the search efforts, which lasted more than eight hours and covered more than 1,625 square miles (2,615 square kilometers).

While details of the overboard are not known at this time, the holiday season is a challenging time for many individuals who may be suffering from depression or other difficulties. In 2022, a female guest went overboard from MSC Cruises’ MSC Meraviglia in mid-December and was sadly found deceased.

Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with the man’s family members, friends, and traveling party, as well as with the crew members impacted by this difficult situation.

Ultimately, the search was suspended without success. Exactly how long search efforts last depends on many factors, including weather conditions, water temperature, the location of the search, and the individual circumstances of each incident.

While Vision of the Seas was involved in the search efforts for approximately six hours, the ship was released to move along on her itinerary.

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas (Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock)

It is not unusual for cruise ships to be released from search operations after rescue boats arrive, as USCG and other support craft are better equipped to thoroughly search a region and administer immediate assistance if an overboard individual is located. This also helps the cruise ships continue with minimal disruption for the thousands of other passengers aboard.

The 78,717-gross-ton Vision of the Seas is one of the older ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, having first set sail in 1998. The ship is well-equipped with appropriate safety gear, however, and all crew members are expertly trained in emergency operations.

Vision of the Seas can welcome 2,050 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 2,514 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. During the holiday season, cruise ships are more often sailing closer to their full capacity.

The ship is currently homeported from Baltimore, Maryland, offering a variety of Southern Caribbean, Southeast Coast, Bahamas, and Bermuda itineraries, depending on departure date and cruise length. Vision of the Seas is scheduled to remain homeported from Baltimore at least through April 2025.

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