How much is a life at sea worth?

Having worked at sea in the 1990’s as a Bar Stewardess I was saddened to see a recent news story regarding a young man called Arron Hough, a dancer, who was in the stage production of Grease on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.

It has been reported that this young man, in the prime of his life at just 20 years old, had gone “missing” presumed overboard in the early hours of Christmas Day.

Arron was last seen on CCTV around 4 am on Christmas Day on deck 5 and the alarm was raised when he did not turn up for work.

The US Coast Guard was alerted, and crew searched for 83 hours by plane and boat covering over 3707 square miles before having to call off the search.

Suspending the search at 2.30 pm on 28th December, Commander Christopher Douglas, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector San Juan, expressed his sympathy for the Brit’s loved ones.

He said: “We’ve been in contact with members of Mr Hough’s family throughout our search efforts and know this is a very difficult and painful time for them.

“Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.”

Time and time again I have said that it is impossible to fall over board accidentally and reading between the lines on social media posts it appears that Arron may have been struggling with life at sea.

In the week before he disappeared, he posted several dark and cryptic messages online.

In a Twitter post, the dancer complained about the ‘fake lives’ people live on social media

The post added: “…pretending to all of our followers that we’re having such an amazing crazy ride when actually we’re not.

“We struggle, we have hard times, but we hide this with happy pictures we post …

“…which is fine to keep sadness but sometimes you gotta embrace the facts that you’re feeling down and you’re feeling alone.

“But don’t think this is a bad thing, to embrace the positives you also have to acknowledge the negatives.”

In a tweet on December 21, he posted a cryptic message which read: “Beneath the water is beauty. Always look beneath the surface before you decide on things.”

Whilst working on a ship can often look glamorous it can be a lonely place even when you are surrounded by so many people especially when you are so far from home.

To me it seems that Arron was struggling with this and probably kept it from those closest to him. Often the most outgoing of people struggle with inner demons.

What does sadden me is that if the ship had an automatic man overboard system then the Captain and officers would have known instantly he had gone overboard, and his chances of survival would have been so much higher, but as the initial alarm was not raised till 1.45 pm (almost 10 hours later) then it would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The cost to implement this system is in the region of $300,000 and an annual maintenance of $40,000 but how do you even begin to cost how much a life is worth.

Surely, it’s time that ALL cruise lines must have this detection system on a mandatory basis.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for Arron but other lives could be saved!

What if it was your son or daughter?

POST EDIT: A message to Arron’s parents, friends and family – I am so sorry for your loss and hope that you somehow find the strength to take each day as it comes. Much love from an ex-cruise ship worker xx

13 Comments on “How much is a life at sea worth?

  1. Having done two years national service in 1951,whilst in the UK I was in a 52 man barrack room, I then spent 17 months in a 12 person billet ,no a/c ,toilets were very basic,and I did get permission to leave the barracks at 12.00 hrs on a Saturday,and back again at 12.00 hrs sunday,this was in Benghazi,I booked a room in the Salvation Army Hostel for the night,it was total bliss, That was my only day off in 17 months!! On my return to the UK I joined Th New Zealand Shipping Co=London Albert Dock- NZ, 4 month trip, A small cabin for 8 men, 1 drawer pp ,that was the complete storage,Iwas on that ship=MV.Rangitiki for 6years and 5 months,You quickly learnt to share,and be tolerant to each other,I have been on many cruise lines, When crew members say to me ,how hard they work.I always tell them of my conditions at sea,They freak out I did national service in the army,I was not made to join the merchant navy ,All should do some research first

  2. it is a terrible tragedy.human life is very husband and I have done many cruises and some of them,people were missing and some died accidental or natural death.very tragic and left me numb.God bless this young man and much sympathy to his family.

  3. Adventure of the seas lost a member from the sports team just 6 weeks ago in November an English guy seems Arrons loss was not alone !! Very sad the cruise line to get that system like yesterday.

  4. Rip Aaron.Confolence to the family.This is so hard to come to terms with so young to be taken but the love goes on always in so many hearts friend family co workers pets and children.never forgotten and sadly missed by all.

  5. So very sorry that this young man felt so down as to end his life. Condolences to his family. As frequent cruisers, we see how hard entertainment teams work and have utter respect for them.

  6. Yes I don’t think people accidentally fall from cruise ships. I’m no expert but have been on a number of cruises. We were on the Queen Mary when someone didn’t turn up for work. The cctv was looked at then the shop turned round to search. Passengers were searching too. It was so sad. We prayed for him at the service on Sunday morning. Little could be done. We had a collection for his family.

  7. Deeply sorry for the disappearance of Arron at sea on Christmas day. Sincere condolences for Arron’s family and friend.

  8. I am deeply saddened to read this news, how tragic that this young man felt unable to seek help.
    We love cruise holidays and see every day how hard the staff all work to give passengers a happy holiday to remember. I have sons and I dare not think of losing them, my deepest condolences to his family.

  9. This is so sad for a parent to lose their child at any age ,they must be felling terrible at this time, and also his colleagues and friends he made on board must be felling so bad ,I hope they are all getting some counciling to help then get over this. I also hope all the new ships that are being built at this moment are being fitted out with the new technology to stop this from happening again.

  10. I am very disappointed that you felt the need to post about this unless you have the permission of the young man’s family.
    I heard this story on the news and felt so so sad for the loss of such a young man and my heart goes out to his family and felt that it should be left at that as that is personal to them. I was astounded to see it as a head line story on your website.
    Whether it was an unfortunate accident or not, it is nothing to do with anyone except his family and talking about it online may distress them even more.
    Please reconsider allowing people to post this kind of ‘headline’.

  11. This is so sad. It made me cry. I’m so sorry for the family, and how I would feel if it was my son. I agree the ships should have this equipment to let them know if someone goes overboard, afterall you can’t put a price on a life.

  12. Incredibly sad that he did not talk to a friend about how he felt. He should have gone to the Human Resources person and let them know how his state of mind.
    My thoughts are with his family.

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Some people are shopaholics, some are chocaholics and some like me are cruiseaholics! Okay you got me I am also a slight chocoholic as well. I guess my love affair for cruises began in the late 1970's when I used to watch "The Love Boat", which was an American TV…

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