Thirty-three year old passenger, Samantha Broberg, was reported missing by friends on the Galveston, Texas based Carnival Liberty Friday morning. Upon being notified that Ms. Broberg, a mother of four, was missing, Carnival performed a ship wide sweep and review of CCTV footage. The cruise ship’s CCTV system captured video footage of a female passenger falling overboard at approximately 2 a.m. It is reported that approximately 10 hours later, Carnival notified the Coast Guard that Ms. Broberg went overboard. The Coast Guard began a search but on Sunday night, after a 20 hour operation covering over 4,300 square miles, the Coast Guard announced that the search operation was suspended. The Carnival Liberty was approximately 195 miles from Galveston, Texas when Ms. Broberg went overboard. The ship was sailing on a four-day Mexican cruise.
The Federal Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise lines to integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard. It is uncertain why it appears that Carnival took 10 hours to confirm Ms. Broberg went overboard. Notwithstanding the Federal law requiring cruise ships to have technology which will alert and confirm that a person went overboard, cruise ships also have a duty to perform a search and rescue operation, and to notify the U.S. Coast Guard in a timely fashion once it is discovered that someone has fallen overboard. Such search and rescue procedures are required for all overboard occurrences, whether involving a passenger or crew member.
Passengers and crew falling overboard from a Carnival ship departing Galveston is nothing new. In March of 2015, a male passenger’s body was recovered after falling overboard from the Galveston based Carnival Triumph. In February of 2012, a Carnival crew member slipped and fell from a Galveston based cruise and was later rescued. In September of 2011, a man went overboard from the Carnival Conquest. The full circumstances surrounding how and why Ms. Broberg ended up overboard are still under investigation. It is not uncommon for cruise lines to issue press releases stating that passengers went overboard intentionally. In numerous instances, however, the excess service of alcohol is linked to a passenger’s disappearance. The service of alcohol is a major profit center for the cruise lines. We will continue to monitor this incident and report of any additional information learned.