General Question

6rant6's avatar

On a cruise ship, what happens if someone goes missing?

Asked by 6rant6 (13672points) February 20th, 2011

If someone goes missing on a cruise ship what happens? Do they turn the ship around and go back? Do they conduct a “Murder She Wrote” style investigation? Do they treat the cabin of the missing person as a crime scene?

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6 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I imagine it’d depend on the circumstances of the disappearance. Assuming there’s no evidence if foul play (b&e, blood, property damage, ransom note, etc.) we can rule out a criminal investigation.

If someone is on the cruise alone and simply decides not to return to the ship after a stop (in port) – I’m not sure anyone would notice right away and the ship would simply sail along.

Now if someone reported someone missing (spouse, family member, traveling companion) – a search would probably be conducted onboard, local authorities (closest, most recent port) would be alerted (who would start whatever their standard missing persons investigation is).

If it’s suspected the person went overboard at sea, the coast guard would be called in to conduct a search.

If it’s determined that the person is neither onboard or fell into the ocean, I suspect the ship would continue on it’s cruise (after some delay) and the investigation would be left to local authorities. The missing person’s traveling companions (if there are any) would likely stay behind.

marinelife's avatar

In the US, the FBI takes on such investigations. Really, though, it is usually bungled. The cruise line wants to hush things up, of course.

Here is just one tragic example, a man who disappeared from his honeymoon cruise.

6rant6's avatar

I talked to someone who works on a cruise ship. She said they make a huge deal about someone disappearing regardless of the circumstances. They have continuous loudspeaker announcements and must turn back to retrace until law enforcement or Coast Guard can take over. This obviously applies to US waters.

I’m trying to get real information from someone who has experience with it.

Baddreamer27's avatar

I don’t know about a cruise ship, but in the Navy we have an all hands muster. The do whats called “Man Overboard” Everyone musters with his/her division and gets the results up to the captain ASAP, at the same time, the CO stops all operations and circles the boat back around. They deploy rescue swimmers and boatswains mates into the water. Security mans outside spaces of the ship and searches from onboard. Never had a time when no one was found, but I imagine they stay in the area for a few days and call on help from the fleet ships in the area. We always do a muster before pulling in and back out of port to make sure everyone who leaves the ship comes back on the ship. If they miss the muster when we pull back out that means they missed ships movement. Missing ships movement means they are UA and that is a chargable criminal offense under the UCMJ.

snowberry's avatar

These are both well-known stories kidnappings involving cruise ships. As I recall in neither case did the port authorities offer much help, and sometimes it appeared they might have been trying to “help” the kidnappers by not taking the disappearance seriously.

pathfinder's avatar

Donkey punch

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