In 2009 I cruised the Bahamas onboard NCL’s Norwegian Sky. It was a three day cruise departing from Miami with Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau on the itinerary. It was on route to Nassau that a man jumped from his balcony.

What happened?

On this particular cruise I was staying in an inside cabin with my family. We initially heard an alert put out over the tannoy at around 3am, it was a code something or other which we paid very little attention to at the time. It may have been ‘oscar oscar oscar’ which I believe is the morse code term for man overboard. They later made another announcement stating that a man had fallen overboard and asked guests to keep a look out.

It was reported that the man who went overboard was 39 but his name was never released, it was assumed that he jumped. A number of other guests saw him go overboard but he was never found. It has been rumoured that he had been drinking at the time although this could be wrong, seems strange that he went overboard at 3am though. Most man overboard cases are domestic incidences, related to people who have been drinking or suicide. There was an interesting case in 2009 on board Carnival Cruise lines Paradise, where an elderly couple put the do not disturb sign on their door and both jumped from the balcony.

How many jump?

NCL only had one man overboard case in 2009, they’ve had a total of 19 since 2000 which really isn’t too bad when you consider the thousands and thousands of guests they have everyday. Carnival are in the lead with number of men overboard with a total of 57 since 2000, followed by Royal Caribbean who have had 40. So far there have been 10 reported cases in 2016.

Cruise Ship Man Overboard Jump How Many Chart NCL Royal Caribbean

(Totally just noticed that Caribbean is spelt wrong on this chart…)

After the announcement over the tannoy the ship turned around and proceeded the circle the area for the next 12 hours.The search was helped by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas cruise ship, the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship and a Disney cruise line ship. We missed our stop in Great Stirrup Cay because of the search. I’m sure there are some people who moaned about missing the stop, but i’m sure they’d like to be looked for if they fell off the ship…

Cruise ships are generally incredibly safe places to be. The majority of people who go overboard don’t ‘fall’ and many of those who do end up overboard survive. If it was easy to accidentally slip and fall off the ship then we would see children overboard. However, there are no incidence of children ever having fallen from a cruise ship that I know of or can find.


I'm Emma, a 23 year old travel blogger based in the UK who strongly believes that cruising isn't just for old people!


  1. Interesting information here. I’ll know there are a few disputed cases where foul play is suspected, but as you say the number of incidents is very small considering the number of people who cruise.

    • emmaleteace Reply

      Thank you! It would be a great place to base a murder mystery…

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