Cruise Passenger Walks off Ship and Vanishes

October 11, 2012
(3 p.m. EDT) -- A 71-year-old passenger walked off a Holland America ship without anyone noticing and never returned. Now the search is on to find her.

According to Canadian television station CTV Atlantic, the woman was last seen on Veendam on September 30 after the ship left Quebec City. Crewmembers noticed she was missing October 4, as Veendam was docking in Halifax.

"There is nothing to indicate she met with foul play or that she jumped," constable Pierre Bourdages told Cruise Critic. Bourdages is the Public Information Officer for the Halifax Regional Police. "Because the lady was traveling alone, they're not quite sure which port she got off at. It could have been Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island [Oct. 2], or Sydney, Nova Scotia [Oct. 3]."

Though no security offers saw the woman leave the ship, and no video footage has yet surfaced of her departure, Bourdages said the absence of key belongings from her cabin lead them to believe she walked off the ship.

"I can't say specifically what she took from or left in her cabin, but she took items that we believe she'd need if she did not intend to come back."

There is a great deal of concern for the health of the woman, who, according to CTV Atlantic, needs medication and can become agitated without it. Additionally, Bourdages said it's beginning to get quite cold in the Maritimes, with near-freezing nighttime temperatures.

It is still unclear how the elderly passenger could have left the ship without a single Holland America security officer or crewmember noticing. Typically, passengers must swipe their cabin keycards through a security system before debarking or embarking a ship. And while cruise lines don't disclose the exact locations of security cameras on ships, it is commonly understood that there are cameras aimed at all traditional points of entry and exit.

However, the line declined to answer any of Cruise Critic's questions, providing only a prepared statement:

"Upon arrival in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 4, it was discovered that a 71-year-old female guest who was sailing on ms Veendam was missing. The ship departed Montreal on September 29 and called at Quebec City; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia. A ship wide search was conducted. Per marine regulation and protocol, Transport Canada/Canadian Coast Guard (TC/CGG), United States Coast Guard, FBI, RCMP and local law enforcement authorities were contacted with all known information. An investigation is ongoing."

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor