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Thanksgiving Miracle: Coast Guard Rescues Overboard Passenger from the Carnival Valor


A passenger on the Carnival Valor who went overboard some time after 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard the following day around 8:30 p.m.

The passenger and his sister were reportedly at a bar on the ship Wednesday evening when he left around 11 P.M. to use the restroom and never returned. His sister reported her brother missing to Carnival around noon yesterday. Carnival finally reported the man missing to the Coast Guard around 2:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The Coast Guard, in turn, issued a mariner’s alert to other vessels in the Gulf of Mexico to be on the lookout.

Carnival turned its cruise ship around 2:30 p.m. around  after it was notified at noon of the missing guest. Its delayed search was unsuccessful.

An anchorwoman from a news station (WWLTV) tweeted around 7:00 p.m. that the Coast Guard was still searching for the missing passenger.


The Coast Guard deployed a rescue boat from Venice, Louisiana, a helicopter from New Orleans, and two C-130 aircraft from Clearwater, Florida and Mobile, Alabama.  The overboard man was not rescued until a vessel in the area eventually located him.  Around 8:30 p.m., a cargo ship identified as CRINIS spotted the man in the water and alerted the Coast Guard which dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter aircrew which “hoisted the man onto the helicopter.”  The man is hospitalized in a stable condition, according to WWLTV.

The Coast Guard states that the man could have been in the water for as long as 15 hours. However, if the guest went overboard shortly after he left the cruise ship bar at 11:00 p.m. and was not located and rescued until 8:30 p.m., it seems that he may have been in the water for as long as around 21 hours.

This overboard case, albeit ending successfully, is yet another example that Carnival owned and operated cruise ships are not equipped with automatic man overboard systems. The 2010 Vessel Security and Safety Act requires cruise ships to be equipped with systems which utilize radar and motion detection sensors to alert the bridge whenever someone goes over the rails of the ship. With such systems, officer in the bridge will be automatically notified when a person goes into the water and the person can be tracked even at nighttime by the radar and infrared technology.

Here are just a couple of automatic man overboard systems available to the cruise industry (there are several others):

MARSS Mobtronic

Pure Tech

No Carnival owned ships have such technology even though it is readily available, effective and affordable.  Such systems cost only a few thousand dollars to install.

There have been people overboard from cruise ships in the last two decades per the data provided by cruise expert Dr.Ross Klein.

There have been other miracle rescues of cruise ship passengers and crew members before.

In June of 2018, a crew member on Norwegian Cruise Line fell overboard in the sea north of Cuba  and was rescued by a passing Carnival ship nearly a day later. (Read: How often do people fall overboard on cruise ships? by Rosie Spinks in Quartz).

In August 2018, a 46 year-old guest fell from the Norwegian Star and was eventually rescued, around 35 hours later, by the Croatian Coast Guard after the NCL abandoned the search for the overboard guest.

Only around 15% of people who fall from cruise ships are rescued according to Dr. Klein’s data.

The last person who went overboard from the Carnival Valor occurred in February of this year when a 32 year-old guest went overboard while the ship was cruising to Cozumel.

If you have a question or comment, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Carnival ValorMason Piscitelli – CC BY-SA 4.0 commons  / wikimedia.


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