Cruise Industry And Passengers Missing At Sea

You might not realize it when you plan your dream cruise, but many have died at sea and their death remains a mystery. Passengers leaving from many of the cruise ports in Florida must be prepared consumers.

The latest involves a Florida woman Jennifer Ellis-Seitz, 36, a Central Florida journalist who was on a Christmas cruise with her husband of one year when she plunged off the 15-story Norwegian Pearl, into the waters off Cancun.

Seitz apparently had everything to live for. She had married a year earlier, had just lost 130 pounds, was anxious to start a family, and had lined up a new job.

A surveillance camera captured someone wearing a bathrobe falling overboard 8 p.m. Thursday night, but it was eight hours later before Ellis-Seitz’s husband reported her missing.

Then there is the couple who told the Today show, that the husband was headed to the casino with a bag of coins that night to “see if he could change his luck.”

Another delay – The FBI began investigating when the ship docked in Miami Sunday, beginning with an interview with the husband, who has a domestic battery charge for head-butting his wife.

The problem with a crime at sea or someone falling overboard is that you are basically on your own. Too much time passes generally before anyone knows there is a problem and a search begins. In this case, Seitz disappeared Thursday night and the FDA began its investigation when the ship docked Sunday.

There was reportedly an 11-hour gap between the fall and efforts to find her at sea.

There were no announcements or cabin checks on board. Passengers learned of the death when they saw the news onboard.

There is no one watching surveillance cameras and no alarms that go off when someone goes overboard.

Ships are all registered to foreign countries so they do not have to follow U.S. law or regulations. This is not an accident – it is intentional and a way to avoid liability and lawsuits from medical malpractice or emotional distress.

Cruise lines are not required to report deaths, though with approximately 10 million passengers who have a great and safe time each year, there were 97 cruise ship deaths reports by the Broward County Coroner’s office during the last decade, and 33 reported during a three year period by Miami-Dade County. Many of these people died from natural causes.

Planning a cruise vacation? Ask many questions and read and understand the fine print on your ticket. That is the only recourse you are likely to have if something goes wrong.

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