Tragedy at Sea


Patience is the virtue of life. However, our patience had been put to the test by having to wait for over a year, before my sister and myself boarded once again the Carnival Spirit Cruise ship, this time bound for the South Pacific, eleven days and ten nights with over 3,000 other passengers onboard.

Our last cruise together was to Moreton Island, a five-day and four nights cruise up the east coast of Australia. This was a really pleasurable cruise for me as it was my first cruise on one of the large cruise liners where everything is provided for you, your own cabin steward, fine dining and of course an excellent array of mixed cocktails, French Martini was my chosen delight.

27th March 2019 had finally arrived and the process for boarding the Carnival Spirit ship in my opinion desperately needs improving, even with an allocated time it was horrendous. The endless line to go through immigration checks seemed to continually grow and we were just stuck there trying to be patient and in desperate need of one of those cocktails.

Thankfully our heavy luggage was placed outside our cabin allowing us to try out our first speciality cocktail of the day whilst watching Sydney Harbour pass by. Sydney is a delightful city to be leaving. Thank goodness we both now reside in beautiful Coffs Harbour, where the Great Dividing Range meets the sea and the air is fresh without pollution streaming into our lungs.

Settling into the ship routine isn’t hard once you have experienced the lifestyle, especially knowing that we have three days of sea travel before we reach our first island destination. We manage to relax, meet our fine dining table attendees, who were from Dolby Queensland and South Australia. Then it was decision time to work out which show time event to attend, whilst sampling more cocktails at our favourite bars, Alchemy and Red Frog.

The first few days seemed to disappear without much thought as to what day or time it was.

Our first Saturday night’s fine dining dress code was formal to which we obliged to look our best. Prior to entering into the dining area, we had our normal cocktail, my sister had Espresso Martini and mine, of course, French Martini. Neither of us could have imagined how this night was going to end.

After finishing our evening meal and attending one of the entertainment shows we went back to our favourite Alchemy Bar to listen to the wonderful Summer Breeze group of two musicians playing favourite songs. The night was perfect, we originally sat up at the bar and spoke to Alexander the head barman and discussed different types of martinis. Sitting up at a bar isn’t always comfortable so we moved to more relaxed lounge chairs where we could listen and sing along to the music whilst watching the passing parade.

There was one particular couple that caught our eyes, as they both appeared to be unsettled in where they wanted to sit. They moved from one location to another, then to the bar where the woman sat there on her own while the man decided to pick up one of the bucket lounge chairs and try to shake it. Alexander the barman yelled out “Put that down Bengy”, to which he did. Then he walked over to where we were sitting and came up really close to my sister’s face and said: “what did you have for dinner?” my sister advised him and he said “the wrong choice” and walked away. He then proceeded to almost sit on top of two other ladies who were quietly having a drink.

He went back to the bar and embraced an elderly couple walking past by giving the woman a hug and shaking the man’s hand. Then he and his partner left the bar.

We both felt he was either drunk or spinning out on drugs or both.

Then at 1.20am Sunday morning we were woken by an announcement “Would Benjamin L return to his cabin” This announcement was continuous for a few hours until the Captain announced, “we have a passenger missing and we need to search all cabins please return to your cabins immediately”. We both looked at one another and said: “there is something wrong” Within moments we had our steward knocking on our cabin door. I answered the door and the steward asked to see if only my sister was in the room. He looked and accounted for my sister Debra.

It took until 7am before another announcement came from the Captain “We have viewed all the ships video footage and found that the passenger a 26-year-old Benjamin L has jumped off the ship. Our thoughts are with his partner and family, which we will be providing counselling. We will be turning the ship around and go back to where he possibly jumped off the ship”.

The shock was too much for us; we knew straight away that it was the man we saw on a Saturday night and had spoken to Debra.

For the next 12 hours, our ship together with another close by cruise liner and sea rescue plane searched to hopefully locate his body without success.

As we had lost a day at sea and obviously not docking at our first location Santos, the Cruise Director announced that the Captain would try and get the ship to dock at another island, if possible. Docking at another island was far from our minds as the thought of a 26-year-old man losing his life was heartbreaking.

The following night we asked Alexander the barman at the Alchemy Bar was it the guy that acted oddly the night before, he replied “Yes”. Our hearts sank!

Days following this tragedy there were an enormous amount of stories circling the ship. The ship’s Internet was closed down, as passengers were Face booking stories about the death, some really terrible.

We didn’t know if this had reached the news back in Australia so we contacted our families advising them that we were sort of ok and trying to deal with such a terrible tragedy. All we could think about was the man’s partner and his family.

During the rest of the cruise, there was a flatness surrounding the situation and we had noticed that there was a security guard sitting outside one of the cabins on our level and couldn’t work out why.

We found out after leaving the ship as to why the security guard was constantly sitting outside one of the cabins on our level. The man’s partner was relocated to our level, as their cabin was an outside cabin with a balcony.

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