Unusual: Men Overboard Are Crew Not Passengers

December 11, 2009
Majesty of the Seas (4 p.m. EST) -- While passengers going overboard from cruise ships have become less of an unusual occurrence then before, two reports over the past three weeks of crew members suffering similar fates raises eyebrows.

Most recently, at 4:30 a.m. today was the temporary disappearance of 31-year-old Robert Mado, an assistant purser aboard Royal Caribbean Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, was seen jumping off the stern of the ship as it sailed off the coast of southern Florida. The crewmembers who witnessed the jump initiated a distress call, the Coast Guard was contacted, and a joint air-sea search by the Coast Guard and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue began. Two hours later, Mado was rescued in seemingly good condition (according to a statement from Royal Caribbean) and was transferred to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital for further evaluation.

In November, a Princess Cruises chef disappeared mysteriously in the Atlantic. He has not been found. What's unusual about this most recent occurence is that Mado was actually rescued after going overboard. More often than not, those who jump don't survive (another successful -- and unusual -- rescue took place on November 22, when Ronald Shulman, a passenger on Silversea's luxury cruise ship Silver Shadow, was able to stay afloat for hours in the warm Florida waters until the Coast Guard arrived).

Today's story had a more definitive ending than that of Angelo Faliva, the Italian-born chef working aboard Coral Princess. According to a spokesperson from Princess, Faliva was last seen speaking to a fellow crewmember on November 26, as Coral Princess sailed from Aruba to Columbia. When the ship docked in Cartagena, he was no longer onboard.

The mystery surrounding Faliva's disappearance continues. "We don't know what happened," spokeswoman Julie Benson told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. "We're cooperating fully with the authorities who are looking into this, but we have no indication or evidence of his whereabouts."

According to a Princess statement, a review of the ship's CCTV and security system records did not reveal any further information. There are three main parties involved in the investigation: Colombian Coast Guard, FBI and Bermuda Police (the ship's flag state). No new details have been revealed.

One intriguing piece of evidence remains: Princess Cruises said in the statement that a life ring was found missing, but the cruise line is not certain whether it had anything to do with Faliva's disappearance. The AP is reporting that Faliva's family was told that a nighttime illumination flare -- normally attached to each life ring -- was torn off the missing ring and left on the ship. Princess declined to comment on the missing flare. Unfortunately, nothing has been determined as a result of this information.

We'll keep you posted if the mystery surrounding the crewmember's disappearance is ever resolved.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor