Drowning: Princess Told to Improve Safety

Sapphire Princess

By The Maritime Executive 08-24-2015 04:57:00

The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report into a passenger drowning on Sapphire Princes, calling for the cruise company to take action to improve pool safety.

The death of a female passenger occurred in the vessel’s Neptune Pool when it was travelling the East China Sea on August 7, 2014. 

In the absence of a dedicated pool attendant, the initial alert was raised by passengers using the swimming pool. Nearby passengers and crew responded, and the onboard emergency services were summoned by telephone. 

However, there was a short delay in the emergency team response due to language difficulties between crew members. The working language of the vessel was English. However, the initial emergency call from a Serbian catering assistant working in the deck 14 food area to an Asian assistant in the purser’s office was not understood due to language difficulties. Fortunately another assistant was able to understand the caller, otherwise the medical team’s response might have been further delayed.

Until the emergency team arrived, limited attempts to perform CPR were carried out by passengers. CPR was only briefly carried out and had ceased by the time the medical team arrived at the pool.

MAIB concluded that risks relating to the use of swimming pools by unsupervised passengers had not been formally assessed.

With no dedicated pool attendants it was left to pool users and bystanders to recognize an emergency and raise an alarm. The crew members (catering staff) in the vicinity of Neptune Pool had not received instruction from the company in medical first aid.

There was no documented formal risk assessment available for ship’s staff reference when assessing swimming pool operational safety.


Princess Cruise Lines has been recommended to: complete a formal documented risk assessment on the use of ships’ swimming pools throughout its fleet and ensure its hotel staff (including stewards, shop staff, hairdressers and entertainers) receive sufficient training and information to take immediate action upon encountering an accident or other medical emergency before seeking further medical assistance on board.

The HSE guidance on managing health and safety in swimming pools ashore strongly indicates that constant poolside supervision provides the best assurance of pool users’ safety. However, it also recognizes that a risk assessment may determine circumstances where the balance of cost and risk makes it possible to provide a safe swimming environment without constant poolside supervision. Many factors need to be considered. The guidance specifically recommends constant poolside supervision if the water is deeper than 1.5m and if food and drink are available to pool users, both of which applied to Neptune Pool.

The full report is available here.