College student goes overboard from world's largest cruise ship

12:13 02.09.2023

A 19-year-old college student from Washington state has been identified as the passenger who went overboard the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas. The student, Sigmund Ropich, known as boiboi to his loved ones, was on vacation with friends when he fell into the waters off the coast of Cuba on Tuesday. His sister, Savannah, expressed her distress on Facebook, describing Sigmund as a son, brother, cousin, friend, and more, and pleaded for his safe return. According to Savannah, Sigmund was enjoying his trip when the incident occurred on the second day of a seven-day voyage from Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Ropich family has been left in the dark about Sigmund's disappearance, as Royal Caribbean has not provided them with information about the extent of the crew's search efforts. It has been reported that rescuers spent approximately three hours searching the waves using spotlights, small craft, and watchers after the ship turned around to retrace its route. However, the Cuban officials responsible for the search and rescue operation have informed Savannah that they are no longer searching in the ocean and are focusing their efforts on the coast and land. This decision has left the family hopeful that the search will be reopened in the ocean, as they believe it is crucial to finding Sigmund.

Royal Caribbean stated that it has been cooperating with the US Coast Guard, but the Cuban authorities have jurisdiction over the search and rescue operation due to the incident occurring in their territorial waters. The USCG plans to conduct an investigation into the incident once the Wonder of the Seas returns to US waters. The cruise ship, which is 1,188 feet long and has 18 decks, can accommodate nearly 7,000 passengers and 2,300 crew members. However, its record as the largest cruise ship will soon be surpassed by Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, set to begin service next year.

This tragedy adds to a series of incidents involving passengers going overboard on cruise ships. Earlier this month, an Indian woman died after apparently jumping off Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas, while a 42-year-old woman was rescued after falling off the Mariner of the Seas in June. These incidents highlight the need for improved safety measures, such as detection devices that automatically alert the crew when someone goes overboard. On average, 19 people go overboard on cruise ships each year, with a low success rate of rescues.

The cruise industry trade group, Cruise Lines International Association, stated that cruise lines already implement various measures to maintain a safe environment, including physical barriers, video surveillance systems, and trained crew members. However, discussions continue regarding the implementation of additional safety measures to prevent such incidents in the future. The tragic disappearance of Sigmund Ropich has reignited these discussions and fueled the family's plea for answers and updates regarding the search for their loved one.

/ Saturday, September 2, 2023, 12:13 PM /

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