Carnival cruise ship ‘curse’

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The young couple feared to have plunged to their deaths from a luxury cruise liner off the coast of Australia may have died in a tragic accident, a source said Friday.

Paul Rossington, 30, and Kristen Schroder, 27, were discovered missing when the Carnival Spirit liner docked in Sydney Thursday.

As a massive sea and air search for the pair was called off Friday, authorities were said to be looking at the theory that Miss Schroder fell first and her panic-stricken boyfriend then jumped in to try to save her.

'Paul was trying to save her,' a source who asked not to be identified told the Australian Associated Press.

Security footage on the boat is said to show the pair falling overboard from the mid-deck of the boat as it travelled down the New South Wales' mid-north coast just before 9pm local time on Wednesday.

Initially police were unable to determine who had fallen into the sea first, but after the footage had been enhanced, they could see that it was estate agent Miss Schroder who plunged first from the 65ft-high deck, followed about 20 seconds later by her boyfriend.

They were reported missing 12 hours later after the boat had docked at Sydney's Circular Quay at the end of its 10-day cruise.  Staff noticed the couple had failed to collect their luggage when the rest of the 2,680 passengers disembarked.

Survival expert Dr Paul Luckin said if the couple, from Barraba, near Tamworth in NSW, had survived the impact of hitting the water, fatigue would be their biggest problem.

Dr Luckin, who advises the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said he would not expect anyone to last as long as three days after falling from a ship.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: 'If you're stuck in the water and constantly being hit in the face by water, that is tremendously fatiguing...

'It will certainly be under three days that you would expect somebody to survive without water in those conditions.'

Mr Rossington, a paramedic, and his girlfriend had been on holiday on the cruise around the Pacific Islands with a group of seven relatives and friends.

Their cabin on the ship remains sealed off while forensic officers inspect it, although the ship did set sail from Sydney on its next cruise at 6.30pm Thursday night.

NSW police marine area commander Mark Hutchings said the couple's fall was not believed to be suspicious, and officers were inspecting the ship's CCTV footage.

He said: 'It’s very unclear, but it does depict one person going over and then a short time (later) another person going over.'

The ship was about 120km (75 miles) off the coastal town of Forster when the couple plunged into the sea.

A statement released by Carnival Cruise Lines said: 'As part of our standard protocol, a full ship search was conducted as well as examination of closed circuit video.

'There is indication from the shipboard video of what transpired.

'There is no evidence of foul play.  However, out of respect for the families, we are not going to publicly disclose the details of what occurred.'

The firm's spokesman said the rails on the cabin balconies are higher than the required standard.

Carnival Cruise Lines, operated by Miami-based Carnival Corp, has been beset by a series of problems and onboard crimes including power outage, rape, sickness and theft.

Several lawsuits have been launched against Carnival - but whether complainants will have any success is doubtful as the cruise company has a legal structure that shields it from big-money lawsuits.

Many passengers will have unknowingly signed Carnival's contracts prohibiting them from class action lawsuits, while the small print also bans them suing on the grounds of emotional distress.

THE CURSE OF CARNIVAL CRUISES
January 2012: The Costa Concordia ship, owned by a division of Carnival, ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 32
February 2012: A group of 22 passengers from the Carnival Splendor was robbed by Mexican bandits during a guided sight-seeing trip ashore in the seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta.
August 2012: A teenage girl was gang-raped on board the Carnival Sensation during a four-day cruise around the Bahamas.  Last month, 32-year-old Casey Dickerson was jailed for 20 years for his part in the rape.
December 2012: Carnival Corporation reported a big drop in profits after what its chief executive Micky Arison called its 'most challenging year in our company's history'.  The company saw a string of cancellations following the Costa Concordia tragedy, and said it was also affected by high fuel prices and a weak European economy.
February 2013: Thousands of passengers endured filthy conditions aboard the Carnival Triumph after an engine room fire left the ship drifting for five days without power or sanitation.  Passengers said sewage washed along corridors after toilets overflowed and fights broke out over food as supplies ran low while the boat drifted in the Gulf of Mexico before being towed in.
March 2013: Passengers were flown home early after lavatories overflowed leaving human waste 'sloshing in the corridors' of Carnival Dream during Caribbean cruise.
March 2013: The Carnival Elation had to be towed back to shore after its steering mechanism failed.
March 2013: The Carnival Legend lost speed because of mechanical difficulties forcing crew to cancel a scheduled stop at Grand Cayman and turn the ship around, slowly heading back to port in Tampa.