This is in the Special Double Issue that I just received in the mail. Very interesting about the way certain cruiselines handle the situation when someone is reported missing. A newly married man disappearing from the ship (although I don't think that both of them getting totally drunk AWAY from each other is such a good idea). This was on the Brilliance of the Seas.
On a Carnival ship, they only notified the Coast Guard of a missing man only after the vessel had been throughly searched and the rest of the passengers let off at port, which took 3-1/2 hours. Good luck if he DID indeed fall into the ocean!
There was also an older couple who were sailing with their daughter, both disappeared from Carnival's Destiny after the daughter was told by the crew that her mother's purse was found on deck overlooking a 70 foot drop along w/her flip flops. The ship continued on it's course, and they were never found.
On a more positive note, a 49 yr old male fell overboard from the Crystal Harmony, but he was lucky enough that crew members spotted him. The 50,000 ton ship reversed course and pulled him to safety. The moral: If you're going to fall off a cruise ship, make sure someone sees you!
Typically, when someone is reported missing, the protocol is that they are paged repeatedly, then they do a meticulous search of the vessel that can take hours. Only then does the ship alert maritime authorities, which may order it to turn around to help search the ocean. Assuming the fall itself doesn't do you in, surviving in the water is unlikely, although in 2002, a female crew member on the ship Norway went overboard in the Caribbean. Amazingly, the ship returned and rescued her 12 hours later. Lucky woman!