A 42-year-old woman on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has reportey fell overboard from the 10th deck of the liner into the waters more than 30 miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic — but miraculously survived after a dramatic, nearly hour-long rescue.
The chaotic incident, which left other travelers aboard the Mariner of the Seas vessel on pins and needles until the 42-year-old woman was ultimately saved, unfolded on Sunday as the ship was bound for the island of Curaçao, according to the United States Coast Guard.
Cruise crew members quickly launched a rescue boat to search for the woman, a US citizen, and managed to find her and bring her safely back on board in a roughly 45-minute ordeal, witnesses said.
“The passenger was recovered alive and reported to be in good health, after reportedly falling into the water from [the] 10th deck of the ship,” US Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told Insider in a statement on Wednesday.
The woman was taken to the cruise ship’s medical facility after the incident and later transferred to a hospital in Willemstad, Curaçao, according to Castrodad, who added that “no medical evacuation of the passenger was requested by the cruise ship.”
The Coast Guard, which is investigating the circumstances that led to the passenger going overboard, said that agency watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a report at around 5:45 p.m. Sunday that the ship’s crew rescued a woman who went overboard.
“The cruise ship was transiting approximately 27 nautical miles south of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic when the incident occurred and was enroute to Willemstad, Curacao,” said Castrodad.
Fellow travelers aboard the 15-deck cruise ship watched in horror as they believed that the woman would not be found after going overboard.
“After we saw the life rafts or the life preservers and the smoke – I was like, someone just died,” cruise ship passenger Matthew Kuhn said.
“To go from, she’s probably not going to be found … versus holy crap, they found her, and she’s alive” was a whirlwind, said Kuhn.
Kuhn’s wife, Amiee Kuhn, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that people aboard the ship who watched from the balconies erupted in applause when they saw the woman was saved.
“She was sitting up when they brought her back, and the whole ship was cheering, and then they did come on and confirm it was a successful rescue mission,” said Amiee Kuhn.
Royal Caribbean told Insider in a statement: “The ship and crew immediately reported the incident to local authorities and began searching for the guest.”
“Thankfully, the guest was successfully recovered and was brought on board. Our care team is now offering assistance and support to them and their traveling party. Out of privacy for the guest and their family, we have no additional details to share,” said Royal Caribbean.
Falling overboard on a cruise ship does not usually end in a success story.
According to a report from the Cruise Lines International Association, there were 212 overboard incidents between 2009 and 2019 and only 48 or 28.2% of victims were successfully rescued.