An unfortunate incident occurred onboard the Ambassador Cruise Line ship Ambience as a crew member was reported missing during the final stages of the vessel’s world cruise.

Just after breakfast on Friday, May 3, 2024, the crew member failed to report for duty, and an extensive ship search was initiated. The vessel was in transit between its final call of the world cruise in Lisbon, Portugal, and its homeport of Tilbury in the United Kingdom.

The cruise line said in a statement: Ambassador Cruise Line can confirm that one of Ambience’s crew members was reported missing earlier today, Friday 3 May 2024. The ship was in transit between Lisbon, Portugal, and London Tilbury following a round-the-world cruise, and departed Lisbon yesterday afternoon at 3.25pm local time.”

Ambience Cruise Ship in Tilbury

The crew member was reported missing shortly after breakfast today, and could not be located at the beginning of their working day. Ambassador Cruise line has called in the Spanish coastguard, and a search is currently underway, with Ambience retracing her previous course in the hope of finding the missing crew member at sea.

The search seems to be focused on the Atlantic Ocean west and south of the Spanish port of La Coruna, and West and North of Vigo. 

“Ambassador is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all our crew and guests. The search for the missing person is ongoing and remains our utmost priority,” the cruise line continued.

As the search continues, the hope is that the search will be successful, but the stark reality is that if the crew member has gone overboard, the odds of survival decline quickly. With water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean hovering at around 13 degrees Celsius, or 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the prospects appear bleak.

The 70,285 gross tons Ambience, which sailed under the name Pacific Dawn for P&O Australia, is due to complete her 120-day world cruise on May 5, 2024. She sailed from Tilbury, UK, on January 6, 2024, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean on three separate occasions. 

In the past four months, the vessel visited Europe, crossed the Atlantic for the first time to the Caribbean, sailed through the Panama Canal, and visited the Pacific Islands. After visits to Australia and New Zealand, the vessel set sail to South East Asia, India, and South Africa, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean a second time for visits to Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro. 

After that, the ship crossed the Atlantic again to Cape Verde and Morocco, with the final port of call being Lisbon. 

The recent incident onboard Ambience underscores yet again the need for comprehensive safety measures onboard cruise ships, which include emergency response measures. To ensure that communication onboard is done clearly, the maritime industry has developed a wide range of codes to activate various teams onboard.

For a missing person, when it becomes clear that that person went overboard, the captain onboard will announce a code Oscar over the ship’s announcement system. This typically activates all crew members onboard.

Ambience Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Vytautas Kielaitis)

This includes lookouts, search and rescue teams, teams that deploy life-saving equipment, medical teams, and teams to recover the individual who has gone overboard.

Other codes used onboard are Code Bravo, for general emergencies; Code Alpha, for medical emergencies; Code Delta, for security-related incidents; and code Foxtrot for flooding. Ships will typically also use other codes, such as Code Red, Code Sierra, and Code Echo, amongst others.

Once Ambience concludes her search efforts, she will return to Tilbury, to start her summer season of sailings around the United Kingdom and cruises to the Norwegian Fjords and North Cape.

Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with the Ambience crew, as well as the friends and family members of the missing team member, at this very difficult time.

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