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Cruise Passenger Dies in Sinking of Bahamas Excursion Boat

Excursion boat under way in blue-green water
File image courtesy Blue Lagoon Island

Published Nov 14, 2023 8:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

A ferry boat carrying cruise ship passengers partially sank off the Bahamas on Tuesday, killing one person. 

At about 0930 hours, a two-deck passenger ferry departed Paradise Island, Nassau, on a routine tourist run to Blue Lagoon Island. The privately-operated ferry service is part of a shoreside package excursion, offered by multiple cruise lines that call in the Bahamas. 

Surface conditions on scene were choppy. The ferry was nearing its destination when it appeared to maneuver abruptly, according to Kelly Schissel, an American tourist who was aboard the vessel. It began taking on water on the main deck level, and passengers down below began to become agitated, she said. All passengers donned life jackets and moved to the high side of the top deck level; according to Schissel, the crew provided minimal instructions.

"One of the crewmembers who was downstairs ran upstairs and was crying, absolutely bawling, and grabbing a life jacket. That's when everybody was like . . . this is real, something's happening," said Schissel in a TikTok post. 

Eventually the passengers abandoned ship on their own initiative and were rescued by nearby good samaritan vessels, she said. Two passengers were taken to a hospital for more care, according to the tour operator. 

The vessel came to rest on the bottom, which was relatively shallow. Most of the top deck was still visible above the water. 

A 75-year-old American passenger passed away, according to local police, though the timing and the cause were not released. The circumstances of the casualty are under investigation.