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Cruise Ship Man-Overboard Rescued After More Than 20 Hours

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Carnival Valor reported a missing passengers to the US Coast Guard (Carnival file photo)

Published Nov 25, 2022 5:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that it successfully recovered a missing passenger from a cruise ship off the coast of Louisiana more than 20 hours after the passenger was last seen on his cruise. The passenger was reported to be responsive when he was rescued from the Gulf of Mexico and transferred to a Louisiana hospital.

Based on multiple reports from Carnival Cruise Line, passengers aboard the cruise speaking to CNN, and the U.S. Coast Guard, a picture emerges of one very lucky passenger. 

The Carnival Valor (110,000 gross tons) departed New Orleans on Wednesday, November 23 for a 5-night cruise Thanksgiving Weekend cruise to Cozumel and Progreso in Mexico. The cruise ship has a normal passenger capacity of 3,000 or more people with nearly 1,200 crew members.

The unidentified 28-year-old male passenger was reportedly last seen at around 11 p.m. in one of the cruise ship’s bars by his sister. He excused himself to go to the restroom and did not return to the bar. The sister discovered he had not returned to the stateroom and reported that he was missing at around noon on Thursday.

Passengers on the cruise told CNN they began hearing announcements for the male passenger to contact guest services and realized that the security crew was searching the ship. They appeared to have a photo of the man they were looking for but no announcement was made.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports it received a report of a missing passenger from the Carnival Valor at approximately 2:30 p.m. and coordinated the launch of several rescue crews to begin searching.  This included a Coast Guard Jayhawk, Ocean Sentry Aircrew, and a response boat. In addition, the Carnival Valor began retracing its route from New Orleans.

The lucky break in the search came Thursday evening when a crew member aboard a Liberian-registered bulk carrier thought they had seen a person in the water. The Crinis (28,378 dwt) reported to the Coast Guard that they had possibly seen a person in the water approximately 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

The Coast Guard aircrew was vectored into the area by the Crinis and at 8:25 p.m. the aircrew reported that it had rescued the cruise passenger. They hoisted the man onto the helicopter and transferred him to awaiting emergency medical services at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

“We are beyond grateful that this case ended with a positive outcome," said Lt. Seth Gross, a Sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator. "It took a total team effort from Coast Guard watchstanders, response crews, and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate the missing individual and get him to safety. If not for the alert crew aboard the motor vessel Crinis, this case could have had a much more difficult ending.”

The Carnival Valor was released by the U.S. Coast Guard and has resumed its cruise to Mexico.