New details as FBI probes death on cruise ship from Baltimore
By By Justin George and The Baltimore Sun
Mar 27, 2013 at 7:25 AM
The woman who died onboard a cruise ship that originated out of Baltimore was 64 years old and from central Virginia, the FBI said Tuesday as the agency continued to investigate her death as "suspicious."
The passenger from Midlothian, Va., outside of Richmond, was found dead in her cabin aboard the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas on Sunday. She was on a six-night, seven-day Bahamas cruise that left Baltimore March 18, the FBI said.
"It's a death of undetermined causes," said FBI spokesman and Special Agent Rich Wolf.
The woman's husband discovered her unresponsive Sunday, and FBI officials suspect the death occurred somewhere off the coast of North Carolina, Wolf said.
Cruise security and medical personnel notified the FBI immediately after the death was reported, and the ship continued its regular schedule, returning early Monday.
"The ship was working with us the whole way," Wolf said. "We met the ship Monday at 7 a.m. in Baltimore."
Wolf said agents conducted interviews onboard before passengers disembarked. The FBI did not release the name of the woman or her husband Tuesday, citing the investigation. They were the only family members on the cruise, he said. The cause and manner of death remain under investigation.
The body was taken to the office of the chief medical examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, a spokesman confirmed. Maryland Transportation Authority police, which have jurisdiction over the port, also are assisting in the investigation.
Royal Caribbean representatives said a member of its "Care Team" was providing support and assistance to the woman's family.
"We extend our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the 64-year-old female guest from the United States who died while onboard Enchantment of the Seas," a company statement said.
The Enchantment of the Seas has been based out of Baltimore since 2010 and offers year-round cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean, Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Scher said.
The ship left Baltimore with 2,409 passengers on March 18, he said. The sailing included port calls to Port Canaveral, Fla.; Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas.
After passengers disembarked in Baltimore, and the FBI completed its interviews, Scher said, the ship left again for another voyage Monday evening with 2,719 passengers.
It's not known how many deaths occur on cruise ships each year but the tourist-advocacy group, International Cruise Victims, reported that 198 people have been reported overboard or missing on cruise ships or ferries worldwide since 1995.
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"About every two weeks in the last two years," said organization president Kendall Carver, whose group advocates for better cruise industry crime reporting, security and accountability.
Completed in 1997, the Enchantment of the Seas is registered in the Bahamas and has a capacity of 2,730 passengers. The 989-foot ship includes 11 passenger decks; a vitality spa and fitness center; eight pools and whirlpools; eight bars and lounges; a library and a rock-climbing wall, according to Royal Caribbean.
In 2005, a 73-foot midsection was added to the ship in a complex, $60 million lengthening project. The ship was refurbished again last December.
In May 2012, a Coast Guard helicopter crew medically evacuated a 67-year-old suffering from stroke-like symptoms from the ship 414 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Mass. In June 2012, Enchantment of the Seas was diverted to rescue a dehydrated sailor on a 46-foot sloop in rough seas during the 2012 Newport Bermuda race.