The drowning of a six-year-old boy on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Victory on Oct. 13 is the latest black mark against the cruise industry – at least in the eyes of the mainstream media and perhaps many consumers. As a report on CBS This Morning put it on Oct. 15: “The death is the latest blow for the beleaguered cruise industry.”
The tragedy, which Carnival said is the first drowning of a child aboard one of its ships, drew numerous comments across bulletin boards and social media, with many blaming the cruise industry -- and Carnival in particular -- for not posting lifeguards at ship pools. On the other hand, many wondered whether it was fair to demonize the cruise industry when few resorts, hotels or public beaches have lifeguards. Others also wondered where the parents were, while some commenters saying drowning can happen very fast without anyone noticing.
Carnival declined to address the issue beyond its official statement, which confirmed the boy drowned on Oct. 13 on the last leg of a four-day Carnival Victory cruise in the Caribbean. Carnival said the boy, identified as Qwentyn Hunter of Winter Garden, Fla., was at the pool area with other family members at the time. Press reports based on passenger interviews said he was playing with his 10-year-old brother and Carnival said a parent was nearby.
“Carnival Cruise Lines does not have lifeguards on duty at our pools,” the line said. “As with many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools, cruise ships provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty. The maximum depth of the pool is 4 feet, 6 inches, and parental supervision is required for children under 13. In this case, there was a parent present at the time of the incident.”
Carnival said the emergency call to the shipboard medical team was made at 4:49 p.m. and that medical personnel arrived within five minutes. Two passengers identified as trained health care professionals administered CPR was administered at 4:50 p.m., but could not revive the boy, according to the line.
For its part, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) pointed out that few land-based properties have lifeguards. “As with many land-based hotels and resorts with swimming pools, cruise ships provide conspicuous signage to alert passengers that a lifeguard is not on duty,” CLIA said in its statement to the media. “In the event of an incident, ocean-going cruise ships have experienced physicians and nurses that are able to provide emergency medical treatment and care for passengers as needed. CLIA works with its members on an ongoing basis to help identify and redress safety concerns aboard cruise ships, and its members will consider any specific concerns or recommendations once an investigation is completed.”
Other cruise line executives did not immediately respond to requests to discuss the lifeguard issue, so it remains to be seen if any changes are in store for the cruise industry in having lifeguards overseeing ship pools.
By Theresa Norton Masek
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