Death at Sea: Passenger and Crew Mortality on Cruise Ships

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA

Abstract

Introduction: This study reports the global occurrence of passenger and crew mortality on cruise ships. To date, no comprehensive study of passenger and crew mortality has been published.
Methods: All data on passenger and crew mortality between 2000 and 2019 were obtained from 78 ocean and river cruise lines registered globally and analyzed by their age, gender, nationality, cruise line, and recorded cause of death.
Results: There were 623 reported deaths. Out of all deaths, 89% were passenger deaths and 11% were crew deaths. United States residents accounted for 61% of passenger deaths and crew from India (18%) and the Philippines (17%) recorded the highest crew deaths. Falls overboard or onto lower decks (23%), suicide, murder, and a terror attack (19%), unspecified natural causes (18%), and cardiac incidents (16%) were the primary causes of passenger deaths. Suicide and murder (29%) and falls overboard or from height (24%) were the primary cause of crew member deaths. The most passenger deaths occurred on Carnival Cruise Lines (29%), Royal Caribbean Cruises (12%), and Norwegian Cruise Line (10%). The highest crew member deaths occurred on Carnival Cruise Line (19%) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (19%).
Conclusion: Falls overboard or onto lower decks, cardiac incidents, and suicides are the leading cause of passenger deaths. Suicide and murder and falls are the leading cause of death for crew members. Travel health advisories targeting US citizen passengers and crew members from India and the Philippines are warranted. The addition of mental health care to ship infirmaries is also suggested.

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