Passengers say captain ignored their pleas to help after they spotted the stranded boat
An investigation has been launched after passengers on board
the cruise ship Star Princess claimed
their pleas to rescue a boat stranded in the Pacific Ocean went ignored.
The fishing boat, named Fifty Cents, had been floating adrift in the ocean for two weeks
before the cruise ship – owned by Carnival, the same company that operated Costa Concordia – passed her by.
It’s believed that one of the three
Panamanian fishermen died of dehydration just hours after the sighting, the Guardian reports. A second boy, aged just 16, died five days later suffering
from dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke. Adrian Vasquez was eventually
rescued after spending a total of 28 days stranded at sea.
Vasquez told Panama-Guide.com that he was waving a red
t-shirt and his friend was waving a bright orange jacket to attract the
attention of the cruise ship. He added: “For a minute it looked like they were
going to turn to come for us, but then they just went on their way.”
According to Panama-Guide.com a crewmember spoke with the
captain, who said their course was being altered to “avoid the fisherman’s
An investigation is currently underway to establish what
happened when passengers claim they tried to raise the alarm on March 10.
Carnival says the message didn’t reach the captain, blaming a communications
breakdown for the tragedy.
Jeff Gilligan was one of the passengers of Star Princess who tried to instigate the rescue of the fishermen.
He said a member of the crew had looked through binoculars at the boat and
agreed that he could see what they had described to him.
“We suggested that the people from the bridge came down and
looked. He said they had binoculars,” Gilligan explained. “We were convinced
the bridge knew what was happening and thought maybe it took a while to turn
around. But after a while we realised it wasn’t turning. But we told ourselves
that this cruise ship would have radioed coastguards.”
After his rescue Vasquez was tracked down by Panama-based
blogger Don Winner, who was able to confirm that the fisherman had seen the
cruise ship. He also confirmed that the photo above, taken by Gilligan and published on Panama-Guide.com, was of Fifty
Cents stranded at sea. Winner later published
satellite-tracking data on the website, which proves that Star Princess was in the same area as the stranded boat at the
“Princess Cruises deeply regrets that two Panamanian
men perished at sea after their boat became disabled in early March,” a
“We all understand that it is our responsibility and
also the law of the sea to provide assistance to any vessel in distress, and it
is not an uncommon occurrence for our ships to be involved in a rescue at sea.
In fact, we have done so more than 30 times in the last 10 years. We deeply
regret this incident and are continuing our investigation to fully understand
The investigation is still underway.
You can read more about this story on Panama-Guide.com