After a search that covered hundreds of square miles, the US Coast Guard has called off the search for a missing crew member who went overboard from the Holland America cruise ship Rotterdam.

Footage from the vessel has revealed the crew member had jumped from the vessel on purpose. 

A crew member from the Holland America Line cruise ship Rotterdam who was reported missing by the vessel at 11:18 AM on Saturday, April 13, has not been found.

Rotterdam had arrived at its homeport, Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, when the crew member was reported missing, likely by his colleagues onboard. It has since been revealed that footage shows the crew member jumping from the vessel at 9:43 PM on April 12.

After a search of the area where the crew member went overboard, which covered some 538 square miles, the US Coast Guard announced today it had called off the search.

The search, covered by marine and air assets, included the area between Key Largo and Key West, Florida, and Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. The service said it stopped searching after it received new information in the case. 

The US Coast Guard South East said on its X-account: “#FinalUpdate After searching over 538 square nautical miles, the search for the 33-year-old crew member of the cruise ship Rotterdam has been suspended pending the development of new information.”

While it is unclear what the new information would be, it is likely to do with the confirmation that the crew member jumped willingly from the vessel, and it would be unlikely that he or she would be found alive. 

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

Besides the US Coast Guard, local authorities and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office Homicide and Crime Scene unit has started an investigation into the incident.

Holland America Line released a statement earlier, saying it was deeply saddened by the loss of the crew member: “All of us at Holland America Line are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the team member’s family at this difficult time. During this incredibly difficult time, our hearts go out to the family and to each crew member who knew and worked alongside the missing crew member.”

As the 99,863-gross-ton cruise ship was not involved in the search for the crew member, Rotterdam did not experience any delays for its next cruise.

On Saturday, April 13, the ship set sail on a 14-day repositioning to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where she will arrive on April 27, following calls to Ponta Delgada, Azores; Brest, France; Portland, England; Le Havre (Paris), France; and Dover, England.

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

The disappearance of the Holland America Line crew member is one in a long list of sad events that have been in the news since the cruise industry restarted in 2021 and 2022. Just in the last few months, there have been multiple instances where people have disappeared from ships or purposely jumped overboard.

The US Coast Guard announced the end of the search for a 20-year-old man reported overboard from Liberty of the Seas on April 4. The search was suspended after six days with no success, and no evidence of the man’s whereabouts was found. Another man went missing from MSC Euribia during a cruise that sailed on March 15.

In Japan, a Turkish man fell overboard from MSC Bellissima on February 1. However, this incident was revealed to be on purpose and underscores a troubling trend: many cruise passengers treat safety at sea lightly, often due to overconfidence or alcohol abuse. 

On the other hand, the incidents also highlight the need for attention concerning passengers with mental health issues from all onboard, including cruise lines and fellow passengers.

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