So this post will not be in line with most of the things I write. If you are only here for humor ... please skip on ahead. Those of you who follow me may know my family set out on a quick 4 day cruise on the Carnival Liberty this past week. We were super excited as this was a ship we have yet to sail on and we were taking a whole cabin of first time cruisers with us. I will do a full review of the Liberty later, but for now my heart is heavy and I feel perhaps this outlet will help.
While my family manages to get themselves into Everything it seems... we experienced a first on this cruise. A passenger went missing.
We were enjoying our first sea day. A huge group of us were lounged out in the theatre for the Shopping Show... preparing to jump up and down for a free Del Sol bag and filling out raffle tickets for other cool give a ways when suddenly all the projectors were shut off, the microphone quit working and we heard an overhead page asking a passenger to kindly contact guest services.
I have done some research in regards to pier runners and those who get left behind in port and I know when they are checking to see if someone is on board... they page them overhead before the ship prepares to pull out. We had not been to a port and the first sea day is a little early to have overspent your limit and be required to check your bill, so I immediately thought this was odd. I had also never seen an announcement like that where all other communication on the ship was cut off.
The shopping expert seemed a little rattled, but recovered nicely and made a little joke and continued on with his presentation. About 15 minutes later... it happened again. This passenger was paged 2 more times during the remainder of our show. Same thing. Everything shut off. I knew something was wrong. Afterwards we headed to the candy shop and yet again... it was paged overhead. I remarked to the worker... "Something is wrong. Is this person missing?" The candy shop worker was speechless, but I could see it in her eyes.
I set the things I was going to purchase back down, gathered up Trenton and we headed back to the cabin to meet Mark. Upon entering our cabin I found Mark pacing around, we both exchanged sentiments of something was very, very wrong. I would estimate this had been going on for about an hour when I heard our room steward crew frantically going door to door down the hallway. I answered when they knocked and a breathless Putu hands me a paper with a woman's picture on it. "Please Miss Marcia... Have you seen this lady?! May we please look in your cabin just to be safe?!" The fear in his eyes was raw. As they searched our cabin... in every closet, under the bed, behind the curtains, balcony, bathroom to no avail... Mark and I stared at her picture. Did we know her? Was this the girl line dancing on the stage last night? It sure looked like her. We weren't sure. Putu thanked us and rushed out the door... on to the next cabin.
Our first time cruise friends came to our cabin wondering what was going on. The tension on the ship was spreading like wildfire. The dread I began to feel in my stomach was making me nauseous. Then the next announcement came for everyone to please return to their assigned cabins. A passenger was missing and they needed to do a thorough and accurate search of the ship. With all passengers in their cabins they could get an accurate count. As our friends filed out of our cabin to return to their own... I wanted to cry. I was suddenly terrified of what was to come. This was not good!
We ended up on our balcony with all of our neighbors. Sides, above, below... everyone deeply worried, talking and scared. We found a little comfort in the companionship. Sitting in your cabin alone just made you feel so small and helpless. I worried about our family and friends in inside cabins. Our suite felt like it was closing in on me. I was suddenly claustrophobic and wanted to prop our door to the room open. It was so strange. Our cabin steward team came through again. Repeating their previous search. They were so somber this time. I cannot explain the unconcealed emotions on their faces as their search continued to come up empty. The captain and our cruise director began pleading to the missing passenger "We are deeply concerned and fear for your safety. If you can hear my voice, you are not in any trouble, please come out and let one of our staff know you are ok." It was heartbreaking. We turned on the TV channel to the Lido deck camera... it looked like a ghost town. Except for the crew frantically running up and down the stairs... or going one by one looking under every single deck chair. We just sat down and prayed. There was nothing else to do. Pray. Pray the Good Lord wrapped his arms around this woman. Pray for comfort for those traveling with her. The anxiety and fear building inside me was almost more than I could bear...
And finally the public announcements came, from the cruise director and captain... pleading for the passengers to please pray for this woman, her friends and family. I felt lost. My worst fears were being confirmed. During this time the ship had came to an almost complete stop. It was eerie to look out and see the ocean practically standing still. The air felt thick ... and sad. The ship was cleared, the search was over, Samantha Broberg was not on board.
It was elegant night and now after 4pm. How do you get all dressed up and head out to dinner like nothing happened? How to you go to the shows and laugh, dance, gamble in the casino knowing a tragedy occurred? Somewhere on this ship, people that were traveling with her hearts were breaking. I didn't know how to move forward and it was obvious... neither did the rest of the crew or passengers.
All 10 of us made it to dinner.... shell shocked. We had Your Time Dining and requested the waiter we had last night, Tommy. He was very good and so upbeat and funny. When Tommy greeted us this night, I thought he was going to burst into tears. It was clear he was struggling to go through his motions as well. We talked in order to comfort ourselves. Tommy told us how hard the crew had worked... searching every inch of the ship, including crew cabins and off limit areas. He told us how our room stewards had just gotten off their morning duty and all sat down to lunch when it was reported.... and how they had all left their food uneaten to go out searching. I know my cabin steward crew was conducting a search long before the "official" one started. They skipped their meal and rest time for the well being of one of their passengers. When the search was over, it was time for them to report back on duty. No food. No rest. No complaints.
I will not discuss rumors. When something tragic happens as humans we want to assign blame, point the finger, Monday morning quarterback the situation. The sad truth is none of that will help. None of that will bring Samantha back to her family and friends. Judging the actions of others is not our right or place. The only thing positive we can do in this situation is learn from it.... and perhaps that knowledge and awareness will save just one life someday.
I have witnessed many procedures that Carnival has in place for their security and their passengers... and once again I was impressed. If the ship was equipped with a multi million dollar security, heat seeking system would the outcome have been different? Maybe. Maybe not. It won't stop people from going overboard. There was a large delay in notification because of a false sense of security from her traveling companions. Not because of negligence from Carnival. The crew and the ship went above and beyond in their efforts and I hold the crew of the Carnival Liberty in high regard.
Friends ... please do not let your guard down. Vacation is fun... cruising is a blast. Please do not forget your personal responsibility. The ocean while beautiful... is a powerful thing. Careless mistakes end in tragedy everyday. The railings are there for a reason. Your safety. Please do not climb or sit on them. Please be aware of your surrounding and those around you. Mark and I even remarked... racked our brains to see if we had encountered her that night. Is there something we, as fellow passengers, could have done? The ultimate answer is no. We can only move forward, educate and learn from the mistakes for those in the future.
That night, Trenton fell asleep in our bed. I called Mom to let her know he was asleep and I was just going to let him stay. Mark and I wrapped our arms around him and all 3 snuggled in bed together. I cried myself to sleep, knowing somewhere out there a mother was laying down without her daughter. Somewhere out there little girls were going to bed without their Mother. Somewhere out there a husband was going to bed without his wife. I thanked God for my little family and all of our blessings and prayed for Samantha Broberg, her friends and her family. I did not have the pleasure of knowing her, but please know... I will never forget her. My heart goes out to those that loved her!
Please be safe my friends! xoxo