A company statement explains that a passenger onboard Norwegian Epic -- which left Miami at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 14 -- suffered a heart attack and passed away when the ship was approximately 40 miles from Miami. The ship notified local authorities and returned to Miami at approximately 12:45 a.m. "for a medical disembarkation." Although an NCL spokeswoman would not comment on the cause of death, CBS4 reports that an FBI spokeswoman told reporters that a passenger "had a fatal allergic reaction at sea and died before it could reach port."
Cruise Critic members onboard Norwegian Epic posted about the incident live from the ship. Member Nancygop wrote, "My son and I were in the show with comedian/magician and they called a CODE ALPHA to a cabin on the 11th deck. About 15 minutes later they paged three guests (all with the same last name) to call 00 or go to customer service immediately. About 15 minutes after that the cruise director came on and said we were headed back to Miami for a medical emergency. The Captain came on about 45 minutes ago and said we will get into Miami around 11 p.m. and dock at 12:30 a.m. No word on what has happened."
The ship was met by authorities in Miami, and member Zimomiller posted, "Dade County crime scene investigation van and police cars at the port. Police still on board. Almost 2 a.m." Epic set sail once more at approximately 2:45 a.m.
The remainder of the ship's itinerary will not be impacted by this delay, and Norwegian Epic will call in St. Maarten on Monday as planned.
The statement concludes, "Norwegian Cruise Line extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the guest's family during this difficult time."
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor