Death at Sea – Operation Bright Star
I had the heart wrenching news this week that one of my regular cruisers had died on board a cruise
I considered this passenger like an uncle, I have booked so many cruises for him and his wife over the years, I was shattered when I heard the sad news that he had passed away on board Norwegian Jade in the Baltics, he always said that was how he wanted to go but at 69 no one expected it to be so soon
My heart went out to his wife who was still on board on her own until her sister in law flew out to meet her in Oslo, they have to continue back to Southampton to stay with the body, this made we wonder what happens on board in a situation like this?
There are an estimated 200 passenger deaths a year from natural causes – actually remarkably few given the 21.7 million people worldwide that cruise each year
Operation Bright Star denotes a severe medical emergency requiring immediate attention, if there is a death on board the body is zipped into a body bag and placed in the ship’s morgue. Ocean-going ships are legally required to have both body bags and a morgue
Some ports insist bodies are off-loaded as soon as possible – this is done discreetly using an exit away from the passenger gangway. A death certificate is then issued and the body repatriated to its home country, other ports allow the body to stay on board and return home, which saves a lot of paperwork and can be easier for family members
All costs are the responsibility of the deceased person’s family but should be covered by travel insurance , the cruise lines often have a medical repatriation team that will work with the next of kin and the deceased’s insurance company to deal with the paperwork and arrange repatriation if the body is taken off the ship outside the UK. If the body stays on board, an undertaker will arrange collection once the ship arrives back in the UK.
If the spouse continues on the cruise the guest relations manager and medical team will be on hand to offer support and assistance, for instance moving them to another cabin
Hopefully this is not something that you will ever have to consider but if it does you can rest assured the crew and staff will do everything possible to take care of arrangements on board
RIP Mr W