Wife of Crewmember Missing from Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

December 31, 2009

(11 p.m. EST) -- Update: At approximately 4:30 Saturday afternoon, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing passenger, and Monarch of the Seas has completed its New Year's voyage.

(10:33 p.m. EST) -- A woman onboard Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas was reported missing at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday. Shipboard surveillance video later showed the passenger jumping overboard at 4:11 a.m. The Coast Guard is leading a search, but the woman has not yet been found.

The missing passenger, identified as 23-year-old Neha Chhikara in a Coast Guard report, was not only a guest onboard but the wife of a crewmember, according to Royal Caribbean's statement. She was last seen at 3:45 a.m. when the ship was sailing from Nassau to CocoCay. Once she was reported missing the following afternoon, both the ship and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island, were thoroughly searched. Ship authorities notified the Bahamian government and the U.S. Coast Guard, which launched a search using a Falcon jet, Jayhawk helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant.

Video footage later revealed that the woman had jumped from Deck 11, port side. Royal Caribbean's Guest Care Team is providing support to her husband.

Monarch of the Seas was on a five-night Bahamas cruise, sailing from Port Canaveral. The ship is scheduled to return on January 2.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor