In March the luxury liner Princess was on a cruise from Ecuador to Costa Rica when three passengers spotted a small fishing boat drifting in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Panama.
According to the Princess passengers, the liner, part of the Carnival (NYSE:CCL) fleet of cruise ships, did not stop to offer assistance to the boat, identified as Fifty Cents
The boat contained three Panamanian hotel workers, two of whom died of dehydration and heat stroke while at sea, while the remaining passenger was finally rescued after a 28-day ordeal.
In response to the allegations by the passengers, Carnival is launching an investigation into what has become an international incident of possible negligence at sea.
The three passengers, identified as Judith Meredith and Jeff Gilligan, both from Oregon, and and Jim Dowdall of Ireland, all claimed to see the boat while out bird-watching on the ship’s deck. The passengers alerted a member of the crew who worked in the sales office, took pictures of the distressed boat, and assumed that appropriate measures to help the three Panamanians were being taken.
“He called the bridge and I sort of talked through the story,” Meredith told NPR.”I was trying to have a sense or urgency in my voice — and tell them that the boat was in distress, and they were trying to get our attention.”
The sequence of events after that point are what is under investigation by Carnival. No evidence of action on any part of the ship’s crew to come to the aid of the stranded ship has been confirmed. In fact, according to reports, the Captain, Edwin Perrin, reported that the ship was simply passing through a fishing fleet, and altered course to avoid fishing nets.
Carnival released a statement on the matter indicating that they are conducting an internal investigation, while maintaining the “highest level of seamanship” across their fleet.
The Star Princess is an American-based luxury cruise ship registered in Bermuda, and owned by Princess cruise lines, part of the Carnival fleet of cruise lines. The ship has four pools, a nine-hole putting green, a casino, and cabins for 2,000 passengers.
Bermuda officials are in contact with the Princess but have determined whether and investigation is warranted.