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Old October 11th, 2012, 01:14 PM
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Default Time to Raise the Bar on Cruise Ships?

Time to Raise the Bar on Cruise Ships?
by Paul Motter


The conversation on whether it should be impossible to go overboard from cruise ships is overdue

10.11.12



Some 20 to 25 people
go missing every year

I have resisted raising this argument for more than a year now, and have had this article ready for some time now, but I held back even as I read about a 70-year-old woman who went missing from the Veendam last week. This morning I opened up my cruise news and saw yet another report of a woamn who had gone overboard from the Aurora. Two different ladies within weeks.

When Congress hammered out the Cruise Safety Act of 2012, testimony from a group called International Cruise Victims (ICV) included several recommendations. One was that cruise ship railings should be raised high enough that no one could fall or jump off the vessel. At the time, I opposed this measure because I am convinced that no one accidentally falls off of a ship. Nor do I believe that people are pushed off of cruise ships - presumably as a means to cover up to a crime.


Read more:
http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/feature/raise-bar-cruise-ships-121011.cfm
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Old October 11th, 2012, 04:03 PM
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Falling off a cruise ships to me, is a tough thing to do...Up & over is what needs to happen, so, accidental, is something I don't buy. It's takes effort, so suicide makes more sense.

I do remember a few years back, during a similar discussion, one person mentioned how she became mesmerized by looking at the water,and, how it could be dangerous for a person, who had leanings towards suicide.

This is such a topical discussion now, sadly.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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It would not surprise me that within 10 years the lawyers will prevail and cruise ship balconies will look like screened-in porches and the open decks will have plexiglass barriers at least 6 feet high with alarms on them should anyone grab the top edge.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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Dave....

I like the "alarm" idea - like museums have if you get too close to an exhibit. It is like a virtual fence.

In all honesty, I personally feel it is time to make cruise ships "fall-proof"

(1) because falling is just too deadly.

(2) because these staterooms are inhabited by all kinds of different people, not just mature adults with no history of depression.

But on the other side of the argument:

(1) the Golden Gate is not fall-proofed
(2) New York City is not fall proofed
(3) the barriers that are in place ARE foolproof against accidents and that is legally enough

It is purely a moral argument, and one where you are erring purely on the side of caution. However, Las Vegas has chosen to limit the number of balconies and windows that open. They did that for a reason.

One thing you could do is make the open decks fall-proof, and then offer 10% of the staterooms to be fall-proof, and keep the rest of the staterooms as they are.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 07:06 PM
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Linda - yes, the economy makes it topical.

It is also a matter that people who want to commit suicide have figured out that cruise ships present a very good option. Furthermore, you cannot prove it was suicide.

Suppose I took out a life insurance policy, and for five years acted as if I was the happiest guy in the world. And then I intentionally took a dive when no one was looking. No one would ever know my motive and I am guessing the insurance would pay.

Even if you don't buy the insurance - if you have a good lawyer you might be able to turn it into a windfall.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 07:50 PM
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There are many ways they can improve safety measures without it being overly intrusive for the 'normal' guests. The proximity alarms are one option. Having satellite security stations is another thing they should consider, instead of having a central office with officers just doing rounds which seems to be the norm. I would have a security station on or within seconds of the pool deck for example, with their own video displays for cameras in their zone. It could be completely hidden and therefore not be a damper on guest activities, but still the officers could be on the scene of a jumper in seconds instead of a minute or two, and that makes a huge difference.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 10:41 PM
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Leave everything the way it is or if changes, make them w/o hindering pax from viewing the ocean the way we do today. I do not want to view the ocean thru a screen or plexiglass. Just think, viewing the ocean thru the window in a panoramic bar you will realize it does not come close to being the same as on deck or your balcony.

What is being discussed here is the obvious way to commit ship suicide, but it still will not prevent suicides by other means if prevented from jumping.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 12:19 AM
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Leave everything the way it is or if changes, make them w/o hindering pax from viewing the ocean the way we do today. I do not want to view the ocean thru a screen or plexiglass. Just think, viewing the ocean thru the window in a panoramic bar you will realize it does not come close to being the same as on deck or your balcony.

What is being discussed here is the obvious way to commit ship suicide, but it still will not prevent suicides by other means if prevented from jumping.

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I completely agree! If they make all those changes, I will stop cruising.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:45 AM
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If people want to commit suicide, they will find a way to do it. In Melbourne they installed jump barriers on our biggest bridge (a popular suicide spot) and the number of people committing suicide by jumping in front of a train immediately rose in response.

And as for the drunken stupidity accidents, you can't legislate against stupidity.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 11:12 AM
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I am on the side of some others in this thread. If they enclose the balconies and put the outside deck railings so high that no one can get over them, I will no longer cruise.

I take a cruise to be on a ship and being able to feel the sea breeze and smell the air is probably the number one reason. I'll take land vacations and stay in hotels if that is what it's coming to.

I don't book inside cabins and an enclosed balcony would be the same thing.

If they use the same type of "plexiglass" to enclose the balcony can you imagine how dirty they would be. Even with weekly cleaning the glass on the lower part of the railing is usually filthy with salt stains and often you can't see out of it. Imagine looking out at the sea through this. Sorry:

If someone wants to REALLY kill themselves they will. There are plenty of opportunities outside of a cruise. Bridges, cars, traffic, guns, drugs, electricity and on and on and on.

Maybe they'll just put up barbed wire and broken glass on the railings to keep people off.

Sorry: The railings are high enough.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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" Raising the bar " isn't going to solve anything with regards to people doing themselves in. You can completely enclose the ships to where they are nothing but a floating cocoon and if someone is intent on committing suicide, they'll still do it. Jump from an inside floor to the foyer below, slip a steak knife from the dining room and slit their own, or someone else's throat--hang themselves, stick a coat hanger in an electric outlet, while holding it, o.d. on medications, ( lie down on the floor in front of the crowd trying to rush aboard or especially at last morning debarkation would be a sure-fire way to get the job done ! ) I could go on and on--like the old song about how many ways to leave your lover by Paul Simon, ---
The list is endless. Raising the balcony railings a foot or two will not deter someone who is hell bent on climbing on them , whether it be to jump or to be stupid and play around. If a person has to climb 2 feet further up to jump, then how in the heck is that going to keep them from jumping.
No doubt, some of these people that go overboard do it purposely but I can't help but feel that a good part of these " over-boarders" are nothing more that people who have had too much to drink and are acting very stupidly in a very deadly game.
If the cruise lines start to enclose the ships more than they already have, then my cruising days are in the past.
If the lawyers want a new hole to mine for gold in, then start suing the people who cause wrecks while driving and using their cells--and then also sue the cell phone companies for not having warning labels that celling and texting while driving may be dangerous to you health. That's an un-tapped gold mine !
Bottom line, you cannot protect people from themselves. Leave the ships alone-- with the millions of people who cruise in a years time and the very, very few incidents that happen, there's dozens of other things re/ safety that should be addressed, such as drunk drivers, which kill more people in a day that who die on cruise ships in several years.
I'm not hard -hearted but if there's a nut case that can't control his alcohol and gets drunk, climbs up on the railing and falls overboard, then if he ( or she ) is that type person, I'd rather they go overboard from a ship where they only take themselves out than to have them drunk and out of control on the roadways and maybe take out a whole family in an auto wreck.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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I would agree that turning an enjoyable cruise into a loss of life floating prevention center, would make me say: all inclusives please.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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OK - it seems pretty obvious that the people here do not feel any responsibility for the people who go overboard.

But I really wonder if you would quit cruising if the cruise lines found an aesthetic way to make the ships safe in a very non-intrusive way.

I personally would not stand for looking through glass either, but I can envision a set of very thin bars set at 8-inches apart, painted black (or some less obvious color). I do not think that would change the aesthetics that much.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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Really seems like a small amount of deaths with so many sailing. I read somewhere that people commit suicide in beautiful settings they love.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
OK - it seems pretty obvious that the people here do not feel any responsibility for the people who go overboard.

But I really wonder if you would quit cruising if the cruise lines found an aesthetic way to make the ships safe in a very non-intrusive way.

I personally would not stand for looking through glass either, but I can envision a set of very thin bars set at 8-inches apart, painted black (or some less obvious color). I do not think that would change the aesthetics that much.
You are right. I don't feel any responsibility for someone, I don't know, committing suicide from a ship or anywhere else. I feel bad for them and their families but I do not feel responsible.

I know that someone who wants to end their life is mentally ill and I personally know people who have tried and those who have succeeded in committing suicide. There is little you can do, short of commitment, to stop someone who wants to take their life. Even then, you have to KNOW they are a danger to themselves or others. That's hard to determine unless they come right out and tell you.

Yes: I would stop cruising if the balconies were enclosed in plexiglass or bars.

I have no desire to live in a house with bars on the windows. That's a major reason I live where I do. I have even less desire to cruise on San Quentin of the Seas.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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OK - it seems pretty obvious that the people here do not feel any responsibility for the people who go overboard.
I think people should take responsibility for their own behaviour. I purposefully avoid getting drunk in situations where there is any danger, and I have taught my children to do the same.

It seems that, especially in America, people are losing touch with any sense of self-responsibility because of the legal environment, ie whenever anything bad happens to us, there must be some-one else to blame. This results in mindless signage, barriers on everything, etc, and a population that no longer knows how to look where they're going and assess risk for themselves.

And yes I do think bars would be intrusive, whatever the size or colour. I do not want to live behind bars, especially when I'm on holiday and wanting to feel free. It also occurs to me that bars might present their own dangers - kids (or drunk adults) trying to climb them, getting one's head stuck between railings, etc. They might cause more deaths than they prevent.
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Old October 12th, 2012, 08:55 PM
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OK - it seems pretty obvious that the people here do not feel any responsibility for the people who go overboard.
If someone wants to go overboard they have the right to do so. Don't we live in a free society?

No, I don't feel any responsibility to keep someone from jumping off the ship. Maybe that person has a reason to end it all.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
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but I can envision a set of very thin bars set at 8-inches apart, painted black (or some less obvious color). I do not think that would change the aesthetics that much.
Paul, I realize it is your job to keep things stirred up, but this time you outdid yourself. Black bars 8" apart against a blue ocean & sky and white clouds "I do not think that would change the aesthetics that much"???

After reading many of your opinions, IMO if you did not have to stir up the discussions you would be posting here not to put me in a prison scene on my vacation. It is all right to stir things up but don't do it with jeopardizing your creditability.

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Old October 12th, 2012, 11:50 PM
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Where are you going to put these " very thin black bars " that would supposedly lessen the number of people going over the side? Everywhere there is an open piece of deck big enough for someone to squeeze through?
If people want to kill themselves, they will find a way., If you are going to make the ships completely 100 % fool proof, as far as people going over the side, you have to completely enclose the ship. Then, when they start killing themselves by other means, you have to address that. Then when that problem is solved, another pops up and another , etc. It would become an endless chain.
I do not feel responsible in any way for some person, drunk or otherwise who chooses to exercise his / her right to take a swan dive off the back of the ship and " raising the bar " ( railing ) a couple of feet is an exercise in futility as far as trying to stop it.
A friend of mine's son just shot himself a couple of days ago. I haven't seen the guy in several years and have no idea why he did it. He was married and had kids--maybe he needed mental help in some way--maybe there were marital problems--whatever the reason, he's gone. I feel for his family and my friend but there's nothing I can do. A lady I used to work with had a beautiful 25 year old daughter that had a fight a couple of months ago with her boy friend. Went home and blew her brains out. Again, I feel for the family but there's nothing I can do.
The point is, people have always found ways to kill themselves and always will if they so desire. To tamper with a cruise ship to keep someone from getting drunk out of their mind and climbing about on the railing or to try to keep people from having a go at sex on the balcony rail, or some one deciding they want to end it all and jumping over is, in my opinion, not feasible unless like I said, make the entire ship a cocoon and then people will start finding other ways to end it or hurt themselves if they are of that mind set. Cutting out alcohol sales would do more to stop this pure stupidity of " overboarding " than anything else the cruise lines could do but who all is in favor of that?
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Old October 13th, 2012, 12:17 AM
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Cutting out alcohol sales would do more to stop this pure stupidity of " overboarding " than anything else the cruise lines could do but who all is in favor of that?
I agree. Getting rid of alcohol would improve safety on ships far more than any amount of cotton wool padding, and personally I'd mind less!
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Old October 13th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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I agree. Getting rid of alcohol would improve safety on ships far more than any amount of cotton wool padding, and personally I'd mind less!
If they do that, my cruising days are over.

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Old October 13th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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Very minor point but sticking a coat hanger in an electric outlet wouldn't work. This act will probably result in bad burn to mouth if wire is put in mouth. Supposedly, the body reacts to the electric current and releases the wire. This is what would happen if person stuck the plug from an insulation stripped wire of a lamp in an electric outlet. Supposedly the scuicidal person could not use this technique to commit the act.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonnyprincecharlie View Post
Very minor point but sticking a coat hanger in an electric outlet wouldn't work. This act will probably result in bad burn to mouth if wire is put in mouth. Supposedly, the body reacts to the electric current and releases the wire. This is what would happen if person stuck the plug from an insulation stripped wire of a lamp in an electric outlet. Supposedly the scuicidal person could not use this technique to commit the act.
This may be true for a standard household 120 Volt 15 Amp circuit but it can be very different for a 240 Volt 20 Amp circuit. My Uncle fell victim to that when he decided to wire his stove without tripping the breaker.

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Old October 13th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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I just wanted to take the pulse of the public on this topic.

I personally have a job where I am required to check the daily cruise news every day, and it becomes pretty overwhelming to see the consistency with which people are using cruise ships to commit suicide.

In fact - the founder of the International Cruise Victims had a daughter who "disappeared" on a cruise ship. To my mind there is every indication that she planned this as a suicide - the fact the she brought almost no luggage at all, that she did not notify anyone in her family where she was going, and that she disappeared on the second night (in keeping with the amount of luggage she brought).

But I have also met the gentleman, and I can tell you the effects of suicide on the family go on forever. You may not feel sad for the victims, but I can tell you the people they leave behind are usually devastated.

When compassion only requires a small sacrifice I think it is at least worthy of consideration (and no, I do not write these things just to stir the pot). I have your opinions on the matter now and that is what I was seeking - thank you for contributing.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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Perhaps an odd question... but, why don't we hear of people committing suicide by jumping off the top floor of the atrium on mega ships?

Do they jump into the sea because it somehow feels more romantic, or do they worry they might somehow survive a 14 storey fall?
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Old October 13th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Kuki....

That is an odd question, but based on the research I have done I could give you a lot of answers:

1) the potential to survive is there

2) the pain

3) it is better for the families to "disappear" rather than openly commit suicide. I think this is one of the exact attractions of cruise ships as a means of suicide. Maybe many of these people know how much it will hurt the families to know they gave up, so they choose to "disappear" and leave the suicide issue out of the equation.

By the way -- this last aspect also explains why most cruise ship suicides do not leave notes. They want the suicide without the stigma of suicide.

I could write an entire editorial right on the benefits of using a cruise ship for suicide - but if I did that I would just be providing grist for even more suicides, so I have said enough.

Just one last thing - if anybody reading this thinks the cruise industry, and people seriously considering suicide, have not already thought of everything said here you are wrong. But there is always the "compulsive suicide" the people who maybe didn't even know they planned to do it. They get drunk, depressed, and perhaps look over the side and think "I have a 50/50 chance, if I make I have proved I have something to live for."

- Well, guess what, you aren't going to make it.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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This is a very interesting topic. Having developed a man overboard system specifically designed for cruise ships, I would like to make a few comments.

When somebody wants to commit suicide they will find a way. Even with barriers there is going to be places that will be accessible such as the life boat areas and bow areas.
The problem is when somebody goes overboard either falling while climbing to balconies, or crew members performing their duties, or by foul play there is no clear indication of what happened.

We developed a system of laser sensors with cameras that are always active but do not alarm unless it is body mass. The theory being that the moment the sensor goes off the camera video rolls back 7 frames so that the bridge can see the actual event. The video feed is not only maintained on the ship but is automatically uplinked to an offsite call center allowing for there to be no manipulation of the data.

We have showcased this at Sea Trade and at other venues. We have also spoken with numerous Cruise Lines and even cruise ship builders to no avail. We presented our papers and technology to the Coast Guard when they came out with a directive that stated if the technology is available then Cruise Ships calling on ports in the US must have this technology on board.

Being met with resistance when stated that this would be instant notification and the ship would have the ability to perform evasive maneuvers and recover the victim much quicker than having to wait on scene for the Coast Guard and potentially spending 48 hours searching until they arrive and release them. We have also stressed to them the cost savings of not having to give the passengers back their money for a cruise that did not go the way they anticipated.

It is difficult to understand why Cruise Ships will not adapt modern technology but still rely solely on analog cameras.

If anybody is interested in reviewing our solution visit our web site Marine Security Solutions - Port Security, Oil Rig Security, Ship Security, Pipeline Security. Your also welcome to send me an email if you would like more information. David@rzdmpa.com
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Old October 13th, 2012, 05:49 PM
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You may not feel sad for the victims, but I can tell you the people they leave behind are usually devastated.
I do have a great deal of compassion for the victims of suicide and their families, but I don't think enclosing balconies on cruise ships is going to stop it. If they want to end it all, they will find a way. Take away this way, and they will think of something else.

Suicide is a mental health issue, not a safety issue.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 08:11 PM
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I have to agree, if someone want to end their life, they will find a way. I just don't understand doing it while on a cruise ship, you'd think they were having a good time, right?
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Old October 14th, 2012, 12:05 AM
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I did not fully go thru RZDMPA 'Man Overboard' link to his suicide solution, but can definitely go along w/a system similar to outlined in his post & link.

Just in case anyone is thinking I am not sympathetic toward the families or victims, I never indicated that in any of my posts. I just don't think we should go overboard on a solution that will be detrimental to the rest of the pax while the victim will find other ways to end it all.

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