Weird Things You Didn't Know About Falling From A Cruise Ship

Man-overboards (or MOBs) on cruise ships are luckily not very common, but they do happen. In fact, these 20 people all fell off cruise ships, and that's just a small sampling of cases. This list is all about what it's like to fall off a cruise ship - and trust us, it can really spoil your vacation.

You're unlikely to ever end up in this situation, but just in case you do, this list also explains what to do if you fall off a cruise ship. In fact, this list explains what you should know before you decide whether to book that cruise in the first place. You may decide that a vacation on dry land is safer after all...

 

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  • You Might Never Be Found

    You Might Never Be Found
    Photo: Benjamin Lawless / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Even though only a minuscule number of people fall off cruise ships every year, the percentage of those people who are rescued alive is very small. Many are never found, either because nobody realizes they are missing until it's too late, or because sea conditions prevent rescue crews from ever spotting them. 

  • The Hardest Part Is Surviving The Fall

    The Hardest Part Is Surviving The Fall
    Photo: johnmburgess / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    When you fall off a cruise ship, you could be falling from as much as 10 stories up - and anyone who's ever done a belly flop knows that hitting water is like hitting concrete. You could easily break a bone, and having the wind knocked out of you can also make you more likely to drown.

  • The Ship Might Not Notice That You're Gone

    The Ship Might Not Notice That You're Gone
    Photo: TGEZGIN / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

    In 2015, a man fell off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and nobody noticed. He was picked up by a Carnival cruise ship that happened to be traveling along the same route. Technology that can detect when someone falls off a cruise ship is available, but cruise lines are not legally required to install it.

  • The Captain Might Think You're Still On The Ship

    The Captain Might Think You're Still On The Ship
    Photo: Arne Heggestad / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Even if you are reported missing, the ship might not turn around and go back for you right away. When Sarah Kirby fell off a Carnival cruise, her friend Rebecca tried to get the captain to turn around, but because Rebecca didn't actually see Sarah fall, the captain would not veer off course until it was certain that Sarah was no longer on board.

    Sarah was eventually rescued after two hours in the water.

  • The Shock Of Cold Water Can End Your Life Almost Instantly

    The Shock Of Cold Water Can End Your Life Almost Instantly
    Photo: Murray Foubister / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    If you're on a cruise to the Bahamas, your chances of survival are much greater than if you're on a cruise in Alaska. If you fall into cold water, you could die almost instantly of cold shock response. The sudden icy coldness causes you to take an involuntary gasp, causing you to inhale seawater and drown.

    Survival expert Mike Tipton said that 60% of deaths in cold seas occur in the first few minutes, well before a ship could spot and rescue you. 

    If you survive the initial shock, you still could die of hypothermia within only 30 minutes. To avoid hypothermia, you should keep your limbs as close to your body as you can, and exert as little energy as possible. "Try to stay still and float," Tipton advised. Curling up into the fetal position can help keep your body insulated and calm.

    Of course, warm water has its fair share of problems, too - the warmer the water is, the more likely you are to encounter a shark.

  • It's Harder To Spot Someone In Choppy Seas

    It's Harder To Spot Someone In Choppy Seas
    Photo:  Lurens / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Spotting a person in the ocean is harder than you might think, and finding a person in rough seas is even more difficult because the water is so choppy. If you're going to fall off a cruise ship, your chances are better if the water is calm that day.